Jermaine Dixon didn’t take the easy road to playing Division I Basketball. After helping his high school team to a state title game appearance, Dixon went on to play one year at Maine Central Institute, a prep school in Maine, where he averaged 19 points, five rebounds, and four assists a game.
When high school ball was over, it was time for Jermaine to take his game to the next level and he chose to do so in Tallahassee, FL. However, Jermaine wasn’t playing for the Florida State Seminoles; instead he was an Eagle playing under Coach Eddie Barnes at Tallahassee Community College. Dixon chose to attend TCC because of a close relationship his older brother and former NBA player, Juan Dixon, had with then assistant coach Kevin Norris.
Dixon shined at TCC. His sophomore season he helped guide the Eagles to a 17-0 record. In his two years with the program he scored over 1,000 points, and had over 300 rebounds, 200 assists, and 100 steals. Such a feat was accomplished only one other time in TCC school history.
After accomplishing a lot in a very little time at TCC, Dixon decided to take his game to the next level and move on from the junior college ranks. Wanting to be closer to home, Dixon chose the University of Pittsburgh because it was a mere four hour drive from his home in Baltimore, Maryland and Pitt was a winning program, something Jermaine wished to be a part of.
“[Pitt] is a great program, they’re a winning program, they graduate guys academically and they had great players . . . ,” said Dixon in a recent interview with TheRookieWall.com.
With only two years of eligibility left, Dixon tried to make the most out of his stint with the Panthers. He managed to become a starter in his first season under Head Coach Jamie Dixon, and stayed a starter through his second and final season with the team. Looking back, Dixon enjoyed his short time at Pitt.
“I enjoyed playing under Coach Dixon, it was great. [Coach Dixon] is a great mentor [and] teacher . . . . When I went [to Pitt] it was like a family when I got with my teammates. They brought me in like I had been there already,” said Dixon. “I’m glad I made that decision over the other places I could have went.”
Although playing in the Pitt system may have hurt Dixon’s chances of improving on his individual statistics, his ultimate goal was to win, and as a Panther he did just that, going 31-5 in his first season and 25-9 in his second.
With the NBA Draft now less than a month away Dixon is working hard to help his stock, currently training at the Home Depot Center—located on the campus of Cal State—with Duane Cooper and Travelle Gaines.
“We’re working . . . on my handles, my passing, and my jump shot,” Dixon said of his training focuses.
Having an older brother, Juan Dixon, who has already gone through the draft process is an advantage Dixon has over others. Dixon hopes to get a chance and just make the most of it, and with workouts currently setup with the Milwaukee Bucks and with the Denver Nuggets in late June, he will get the chance he is looking for.
Below is a transcript of the interview The Rookie Wall recently had with Jermaine:
The Rookie Wall: Where are you currently?
Jermaine Dixon: Right now I’m in Baltimore, I just came home to handle a few things with my family, but I’m out in LA working out.
TRW: Where in Los Angeles are you working out?
JD: I’m working out at the Home Depot Center.
TRW: Are there other players working out with you?
JD: It’s me and a guy that already played overseas his first year and a guy that’s in the [NBA] D-League.
TRW: Is there a trainer working you guys out?
JD: Yea, there’s a trainer. I’m working with Duane Cooper who used to play for the [Los Angeles] Lakers. I’m doing my speed and conditioning with Travelle Gaines, he worked out Reggie Bush, Brandon Roy, and all those guys.
TRW: After you graduated high school you decided to go to Tallahassee Community College, how did you come to that decision?
JD: The assistant coach was from Baltimore, Kevin Norris, and him and my brother [Juan Dixon] were real close and when he found out I was going to go to junior college he got in contact with me and my brother and I went down there, took a visit, and liked it and they liked me down there when I worked out for them so that’s how that happened.
TRW: What made you decide to transfer to Pittsburgh over a school like Florida State since you were already living in Tallahassee?
JD: Well, I was away from home for a little while. I was in Maine at Prep School, and then I went to Florida down in Tallahassee for junior college so I wanted to get a little closer to home but not too close and Pittsburgh is four hours away. So, you know, it was close but not too close, and it is a great program, they’re a winning program, they graduate guys academically and they had great players so I chose them.
TRW: How did you enjoy your two years at Pitt?
JD: I enjoyed playing under Coach [Jamie] Dixon, it was great. [Coach Dixon] is a great mentor, teacher, and everything. When I went there it was like a family when I got with my teammates. They brought me in like I had been there already. So for two years it felt like I was a four year player [at Pitt]. I enjoyed it. I had a lot of fun playing [at Pitt], and I’m glad I made that decision over the other places I could have went.
TRW: Do you think that playing in the Pitt system hurt your ability to score more points and shine individually as a player, or did it not really affect you?
JD: Yea, you know, Coach Dixon’s system is a grind it out defense and slow it down on the offensive end, and that’s not the way I play. So, I wasn’t able to do a lot of the things that I’m capable of and I guess you could say my numbers weren’t great. Coach Dixon is about winning and even though I wasn’t able to do the things that I know I was capable of doing, I just wanted to win. It kind of took away from it, but my ultimate goal was winning.
TRW: Who did you end up signing with for representation?
JD: Terrance Doyle [of Veritas Venture Group, LLC] a new agency based out of Denver, it’s their second year.
TRW: How did you come to that decision, and what went into deciding on an agent?
JD: My friend, Errol Jackson, he met [Terrance Doyle] through Von Wafer and I got a chance to talk with them, and my brother sat down with them and he liked them, and when I talked to them I liked them. I had originally signed with Andre Buck but things didn’t go well so I had to jump ship and go somewhere else.
TRW: You said earlier that you were working out in LA. Is there anything specific you are working on?
JD: I’m definitely working on my point guard skills more. From my agent we are hearing a lot of teams say that I need to become a better point guard and [teams] didn’t really get to see me play that position. I know I can play [point guard] but we’re working better on my handles, my passing, and my jump shot; getting them better for wherever I end up playing professionally. That’s the [three] main things that I’m working on: my handles, passing, and jump shot.
TRW: Have you worked out for any NBA teams already?
JD: No, I haven’t yet but I have a confirmation from Denver . . . , and my agent is talking with a few other teams and setting up things right now so we’ll see how that goes.
TRW: What type of advice has your brother Juan [Dixon] given you about the process you are going through since he has already gone through it?
JD: He just told me to stay patient and my chance will come when I work out for a team, and when it comes just do what I do when I’m just playing ball. Go hard, you know, compete at both ends of the court and make them want to kick me out the gym. Don’t just settle for the time that [the team] lets me in [the gym], try and stay extra and put in extra work just to show teams that I’m willing to get better and that this is what I want to do with my career.
TRW: Are there any last things you would like to add?
JD: No, that’s pretty much everything. I’m a hard worker. I do whatever it takes to win. I do whatever it takes to get better to become a better player. I was held back from an injury this year that prevented me from doing a lot of stuff but I just want to let everyone know that I am willing to work hard and compete with anybody on the court at any time.