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Memphis gambles that impact transfer Michael Dixon’s talent is worth the risk of taking him

Jeff Eisenberg
The Dagger

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Michael Dixon (Getty Images)

There has never been any doubt Michael Dixon would get a second chance to play college basketball because the former Missouri star has proven he can be one of the nation's top combo guards.

Now we know which school will be taking that risk.

Dixon committed to Memphis on Tuesday morning during his visit to the school, Memphis Roar and CBSSports.com reported Tuesday.  The 6-foot-1 senior-to-be left Missouri last November after two accusations of sexual assault became public, though he never faced criminal charges on either of them.

Memphis will petition for a waiver for Dixon to be eligible to play immediately since he sat out last year after leaving Missouri despite not being charged. There is precedent for Dixon to receive his waiver since Maryland forward Dez Wells got one last year after Xavier dismissed him as a result of an accusation of sexual assault that also never led to charges.

What makes Dixon potentially worth the risk for Memphis is his ability to create for his teammates off the dribble, score going to the rim or shoot from the perimeter. He led the nation in scoring among non-starters as a junior at Missouri during the 2011-12 season, averaging 13.5 points and 3.3 assists per game and shooting 88 percent from the foul line.

Insert Dixon into an already-loaded Memphis backcourt, and suddenly the Tigers boast one of the nation's premier guard quartets. With seniors Joe Jackson, Chris Crawford and Geron Johnson all returning, Memphis coach Josh Pastner will probably have to utilize some three- and four-guard looks to get his best players on the floor and keep his guards happy.

Of course, all this is contingent on Dixon staying out of trouble since he'll surely be under a zero-tolerance policy at Memphis.

Last spring, Pastner plucked Johnson from a junior college despite a checkered history of arrests and marijuana use, a decision he only made after diligently looking into Johnson's background via conversations with his family, former coaches and teammates. Johnson made an impact on the floor and created no problems off of it, exactly what Pastner hopes Dixon will be able to do.

None of Pastner's players have gotten into legal trouble during his four seasons as head coach at Memphis, so he deserves the leeway he is getting from his administration to gamble on a player of Dixon's caliber.

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