When you hear Nick Dixon’s story, think Kurt Warner.
Their success stories follow similar trajectories. Warner went from stocking shelves at a Hy-Vee in Iowa to putting up off-the-chart numbers in the Arena Football League and then winning a Super Bowl with the St. Louis Rams, while Dixon worked at a Super Target for two years after high school before coming to Morton College for a season to remember.
The 6-4 guard/forward became the first freshman in Morton College men’s basketball history to earn National Junior College Athletic Association All-America honors, racking up Second Team honors in Division II. In addition, Dixon was selected as NJCAA’s D-2 National Player of the Week.
Dixon averaged 25.2 points per game, seventh best in NJCAA D-2. His 805 points was the nation’s best and he had eight consecutive 30-point games and 13 overall. During Dixon’s string of eight straight 30-point games, the Panthers were 7-1.
The graduate of Proviso West also accounted for 33 percent of Morton College’s offense this season and reached double figures in all 32 games he played in joining Chris Palermo and Marvin McGrew as the only players in Panther history to score 800 points in a single season.
Dixon also was selected as the Illinois Skyway Collegiate Conference’s Most Valuable Player and attained all-Region IV First Team accolades. The Panthers, who finished 18-14 overall, won their fourth Skyway title in the last five years.
“It was a great honor,” Dixon said. “I didn’t think I’d have this big of a season after being away from the game for two years.”
Dixon popped up on Morton College’s radar when he joined two friends at an open gym session. Panther coach Conte Stamas asked Dixon if he’d be interested in coming to Morton College, and the rest is history.
“If I hadn’t gone to that open gym and Coach didn’t see something in me, I’d be not playing and probably still working at Target,” Dixon said.
Dixon’s next goal is join his fellow 800-point club members at an NCAA Division I school. Palermo went on to play at St. Francis of New York and McGrew suited up for Cleveland State.
Stamas, a former Division I assistant at Stetson and Xavier, likes Dixon’s ability to attack the basket. He believes Dixon needs to become a better defensive player to succeed at the next level.
“I didn’t see this offensive explosion from him,” Stamas said. “He really helped us out this year and did a great job of putting the ball in the basket. He has great body control and is able to avoid charges when attacking the basket.”
Dixon was second in the country with 217 made free throws and third with 277 attempts from the welfare walk. He had 10 games where Dixon attempted 10 or more free throws, including a season-best 20 of 24 performance in a win over McHenry.
Dixon shot 56 percent from the field overall, 40 percent from three-point range and 78 percent from the free-throw line.
“He’s such a pleasant kid and his personality is so laid back,” Stamas said.
A game against Elgin comes to mind when Dixon was taken down twice with hard fouls. Instead of getting upset, Dixon helped pick the Elgin player up off the floor and then proceeded to make the free throws.
Dixon is hard at work preparing the 2014-15 season. He knows he’ll be a marked man, being just one of two freshmen named to the First and Second All-American teams.
“It’s going to be hard,” Dixon admits. “I’ve got a name for myself and people are going to try and stop me. I know I’ll have to be prepared.”