Florida JC guard fills void for Pitt men
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One junior-college transfer is leaving, and another one is making his way to the Pitt basketball program.
And Panthers fans are hoping Jermaine Dixon is better equipped to help the team than the recent junior-college players who have matriculated to Pitt in recent years.
Dixon, a 6-foot-3, 190-pound guard, takes the scholarship that center Cassin Diggs vacated when he decided to transfer last week.
Dixon is the brother of Detroit Pistons guard Juan Dixon. He played two seasons at Tallahassee Community College and was ranked the No. 8 junior-college recruit by Jucojunction.com.
Diggs said the split from Pitt was not amicable. He had wanted to remain with the team, but the coaches repeatedly encouraged him to transfer. After a while, he relented and decided to leave because it became obvious he was not wanted.
"They basically wanted me to leave because they wanted to sign someone else," Diggs said.
Diggs, a Williamsport, Pa., native, went on to say the Pitt coaches were "manipulators" because they made it seem like he would receive more playing time during the recruiting process.
"The walk-ons were playing more at the end of the season than I was," Diggs said. "[The coaches] made it seem like it was because of my injuries, but it wasn't."
Scholarships are only guaranteed for one year and are renewed at the school's discretion.
Pitt coach Jamie Dixon said Diggs was fine with the decision to transfer and that it was an amicable parting of the ways.
In any event, Jamie Dixon will be looking for more production from Jermaine Dixon than he received from Diggs and the other recent junior-college transfers he has brought in during recent years.
Jamie Dixon (no relation) has not had much luck with recruiting junior-college players the past few years. Before Diggs, center Doyle Hudson barely got off the bench and John DeGroat never developed into a viable Big East Conference player despite being a starter for most of his senior season.
Tallahassee Community College coach Eddie Barnes believes Dixon will break the mold and develop into a quality Big East player for the Panthers.
"There's a knock on junior-college players because many of them have a hard time making the transition from a junior college to the four-year school," Barnes said. "A lot of junior-college programs aren't demanding. We're very demanding."
Jamie Dixon has a hole at shooting guard and is hopeful Jermaine Dixon can come in and compete for minutes right away. The Panthers graduated starters Ronald Ramon and Keith Benjamin. The only other guards on the roster who can play shooting guard are freshman Brad Wanamaker, who struggled in his first season, and Gilbert Brown, who might be better suited to play small forward because of his height.
Another shooting guard, Ashton Gibbs, is one of four incoming freshmen who signed letters of intent in the fall.
"We like what he can do physically," Jamie Dixon said. "We think he can become a very good defender for us."
Barnes believes Jermaine Dixon can offer more to the Panthers.
Dixon was a two-time all-Panhandle Conference first-team selection and became the first player in Tallahassee Community College history to lead the team in scoring (20.9 points per game), rebounding (6.7 per game) and assists (98) last season.
In other Pitt basketball news, it's looking less likely that junior forward Sam Young will declare for the NBA draft.
"It's always a possibility," Jamie Dixon said. "I met with him last week. We're still gathering information and going through the process."
Young could declare for the draft and return to Pitt as long as he does not hire an agent. He has until Sunday to make his decision.
First Published April 22, 2008 12:00 am