Even though precedent suggested Michael Dixon would be cleared to play for Memphis this upcoming season, the NCAA's scattershot rulings in recent weeks made the outcome of his petition a bit less certain.
As a result, Memphis had to be relieved Wednesday afternoon when word leaked that the talented former Missouri guard had been cleared to join an already talented Tigers backcourt.
Dixon averaged 13.5 points per game and emerged as one of the nation's best sixth men at Missouri during the 2011-12 season, but he was dismissed from the team last November after two different women accused him of sexual assault. No charges were filed against Dixon, which is why he was able to obtain a waiver to play immediately at Memphis the same way Maryland wing Dez Wells did a year ago after being expelled from Xavier under similar circumstances.
CBSSports.com's Gary Parrish was the first to report the NCAA had granted Dixon the waiver he sought. Within seconds, Dixon's new teammates were congratulating him on the outcome of his petition and Memphis fans were boasting that their team's backcourt is one of the best and deepest in the nation.
Add Dixon to a backcourt that already includes point guard Joe Jackson, high-scoring Geron Johnson and sweet-shooting Chris Crawford, and it's easy to see why the Tigers would be excited. That quartet rivals any backcourt in the nation next season, though fellow American Athletic Conference powers Louisville and Conn are blessed with a wealth of talented guards too.
What Dixon brings to Memphis is an ability to force turnovers and push the pace with his defense and a knack for shooting from the perimeter or creating off the dribble in a half-court set. It's likely Memphis coach Josh Pastner will have to utilize some three- and four-guard sets in order to capitalize on the speed, athleticism and ability to finish in transition that so many of his guards possess.
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.
- Sports & Recreation