While the lukewarm recruitment of Eric Ayala looks to be coming to an end, Maryland is moving on to a younger crop of players from Under Armour-sponsored We-R1 AAU program, namely 6-foot-7, 252 pound class of 2019 forward Eric Dixon.
Dixon, like Ayala at the same stage, is an ultra-productive, yet not super athletic and slightly out-of-shape fringe top-100 recruit whose interest in the Terps has brought him to campus multiple times before even receiving an offer. Dixon’s developed a relationship with a few members of the Terps coaching staff, including assistant coaches Bino Ranson and Dustin Clark, since he first stepped onto campus a year ago. He returned to College Park for the third time last month for Maryland Team Camp.
“It’s Maryland, big school, beautiful campus by the way, but it was just nervousness going down there (the first time),” Dixon told IMS last week at the Under Armour All-American Camp in Philadelphia, 30 minutes from his hometown of Willow Grove, Pa. “Now I go down there a bit more comfortable with everybody there, I’m tight with the coaching staff, I’ve been on the floor a couple times and it’s not that bad, it’s just comfortable.”
Dixon, who was recently named the Under Armour Association’s 16U MVP and was one of the final four cuts at USA Basketball’s 16U tryouts in June, estimates that he hears from Maryland two to three times a week. But despite his strong production, an offer hasn’t been mentioned. The staff’s message to him is just keep working hard.
“I haven’t gotten the offer yet but they believe in me, they like the way I play,” Dixon explained. “I’ve just got to get in better shape, get a little more explosive and just keep working.”
Dixon has lost 30 pounds since last year. Because of his size, he’s learned earlier than most how to take care of his body, noting the importance of dieting, sleep and weight lifting, and that’s resulted in consistent improvement on the hardwood. The 16-year-old more than held his own against the older stars of the Under Armour All-American and has raked in offers from Georgetown, Pittsburgh, Rutgers, Penn State, Seton Hall and Oklahoma State since the spring.
“(During April’s first live period) in New York, I was good, but at USA (tryouts) I got a lot better, just a lot better,” Dixon, a physical low post presence with a high motor and a solid all-around skillset, said. “I got smarter mentally, thinking the game more, and that really has helped my play a lot. Just understanding where the ball’s coming off the rim, how to box out, how to get positioning and things like that, that’s really helped me improve a lot.”
Villanova, Miami, Iowa and Wake Forest are also monitoring Dixon. He plans to take unofficial visits to Pittsburgh and Georgetown next month. In addition to Maryland, he visited Rutgers and Temple in June.
Terps Football Scoop: Loaded Crew of Recruits Set to ArriveStart SlideShow