Juan Dixon first made an impression on Gary Williams during the AAU
tournament in Atlanta during the summer of 1996. The coach liked the way
Dixon was always hustling even with his team down by twenty in a 100 degree
weather. In April of 2002, Juan capped off his illustrious college career
in Atlanta by leading the Terp to their first national championship.
Before Dixon played his first game for the Terps, the Maryland coaching
staff made two decisions that would pay off years later. The first was to
offer Juan a scholarship over Albert Mourning and Alvin Brown, two other in
state players at the same position. Mourning in particular was more highly
regarded at the time many Terp fans did not agree with the decision. Juan
did not qualify initially and was not eligible to practice or play until
December of 97-98 season. Rather than lose a year of eligibility for a
partial season, a decision was made to redshirt Dixon for the remainder of
Juan was the first guard off the bench as a freshman for 98-99 season,
backing up Stevie Francis and Terrell Stokes. He displayed good long range
shooting and great quickness on the defensive end, ending up averaging over
seven points a games on a team that won 28 games.
Between the 98-99 season and 99-00 season, Juan dramatically improved on his
ability to create his own shot and hit a mid range jumper while being
guarded tightly. With Francis and Stokes gone, Juan inherited the starting
shooting spot in a back court with Steve Blake for the 99-00 season. In the
Franklin Bank Classic, Juan hit a big jumper late in the game to help the
Terp defeat a tough Illinois team. His defining game that season was a 31
point effort at Duke leading the Terps to a huge upset breaking Duke's home
winning streak. Juan ended up averaging 18 points a game and earned first
team All ACC honors while leading the Terps to a surprising 25 win season.
Dixon's junior season was a season of high expectations with dramatic high
and low points. However, Juan had another strong, steady season. He led the
Terps to another upset at Duke with 28 points, leading Terp fans to begin
calling Cameron Indoor Stadium 'Dixon Indoor Stadium'. Juan once again
earned first team All-ACC honors and the Terps reached the final four for
the first time in school history.
Dixon's senior season included consensus first team All American honors,
first team All-ACC honors and he was named the conference player of the year
in leading the Terps to a 15-1 conference record. As good as Juan was
throughout his career , he took his game to another level during the NCAA
Tournament. In the second against Wisconsin, he became the all time
leading scorer in Maryland history and had 29 for the game. Dixon again had
29 in the second round a rout of Wisconsin. In the regional semi finals,
Juan had 19 tough points against Kentucky. In what would prove to be their
toughest game of the tournament against Uconn in the regional finals, Juan
hit a three pointer late in the game with UConn to tie the game and take the
heart out of the Huskies. Dixon would end up with 27 points.
In the semifinals, Juan tied his career high with 33 points in leading the Terps past
Kansas despite Lonny Baxter being in foul trouble much of the game. In
Dixon's last game as a Terp, it was fitting that when Indiana took the lead
for the first time with about ten minutes left, Dixon answered right back
with a three pointer that seemed to take the heart out of the Hoosiers and
the Terp coasted to the championship from that point.
To the delight of local Terp fans, Dixon was drafted by the Washington
Wizards in the first round, where he was teammates with his long
time Maryland backcourt mate, Steve Blake. Both Dixon and Blake make it out
to the Comcast Center when their NBA schedule permits.