“My reaction was that he can’t play,” Reynolds recalled. “I thought he was too young to be good on varsity.”
Lanham Christian eighth-grader Derrick Dixon makes his mark on varsity; Carroll gets a WCAC victory
Three games into the season, after Derrick Dixon had scored in double figures in each contest, Reynolds and his Lions teammates had seen enough.
“After he did that, I knew he belonged here,” Reynolds said. “We don’t care how old he is now because he can do things that some seniors can’t do out on the floor.”
Now an eighth-grader, Dixon has continued to make waves as Lanham Christian’s starting shooting guard. Blessed with a soft outside touch and an ability to create his own shot, the 5-11, 134-pounder is the team’s second-leading scorer at 14 points per game. But what’s perhaps most impressive about Dixon is his poise in the clutch.
In the Feb. 8 regular-season finale against Perry Street Prep, Dixon scored a team-high 21 points and made several big plays down the stretch in a 68-64 overtime win, handing Perry Street Prep its first loss in Maryland Independent School Athletic League play.
“His skill level and basketball IQ, which gives him an ability to compete at the varsity level, are impressive,” Lions Coach Tony Lee said. “Of course, there’s still work to do, but he’s got a constant motor and a desire to be better.”
These attributes are why Lee’s eyes kept wandering during last year’s tryouts. Just a few courts over from where players were battling for a spot on Lanham Christian’s varsity squad, Dixon was holding his own in the middle school team tryouts, leading Lee to take notice.
“I had some slight reservations because he was so young,” Lee said, “but with the skills he has, I wanted to oversee his development and make sure he continued to grow into his potential.”
The news proved to be a pleasant surprise for Dixon, who had no idea that he was being watched. Despite the expectations that came with his rare leap to the varsity team, nerves have never been an issue for Dixon.
“At first, I couldn’t believe it for a second because it’s a blessing to have that opportunity,” Dixon said. “I wasn’t really nervous. I was just trying to do my best and get used to the system.”
Dixon’s uncle Calvin Jones, who joined the Lanham Christian coaching staff this year, thought his nephew was joking at first when Dixon said he made varsity. But after remembering the maturity and skills that Dixon has displayed since the age of five, Jones’s initial disbelief faded.
“He’s a natural scorer and he can get points with ease,” Jones said of Dixon, who has drained 28 three-pointers in 13 games this year. “Kids playing against him don’t even know how young he is because he’s like an old soul. For him, this varsity experience is better than any camp he could go to. It’s like on-the-job training and there’s no ceiling for him right now.”
The 8-5 Lions begin postseason play Tuesday against Model. . . .
Carroll adjusts on the fly
As a key member of the historic Carroll basketball teams that won 55 straight games from 1958-60 and a longtime coach, George Leftwich is known as a legend around the D.C. area. But even he admits that the task he was presented with on Feb. 7 proved pretty daunting.