By Matt Winkeljohn | The Good Word
Liz Dixon will tell you that she has a lot to learn at Georgia Tech as a student and as a basketball player and yet she also already knows one thing for sure: while she brings big numbers to The Flats, she brought too much stuff.
When the 6-foot-3 post player showed up on The Flats last week from Memphis and Ridgeway High School, where she played her way to McDonald’s All-American status, she came stocked.
And there’s not enough room to fit all of it.
“I actually over-packed because I didn’t know our freshman dorms were going to be as small as they are right now,” Dixon said with a chuckle. “I thought they were going to be a little bigger. I heard we were going to move into our apartments in the fall, so that’s where all the other stuff is going to come into play. I’m good.”
She’s good, alright.
When you average 24.6 points, 14.6 rebounds, 6.0 blocked shots, 1.9 steals and 1.9 assists per game, as she did in her senior season, you’re going to need big suitcases of multiple sorts.
Dixon’s not too worried about storing all of her stuff. She more wants to fit in and help make the Yellow Jackets’ massive six-deep recruiting class -- ranked by many among the nation’s top 10 even before a late spring addition -- the best in Tech history.
And she knows better what she’s getting into than one might guess. That helps.
Childhood opponent and fellow Nigerian descendent Elizabeth Balogun, a 6-1 guard from Chattanooga, joined her on the victorious West squad in the McDonald’s All-America game March 28 in Philips Arena. She also knows 5-10 guard Jasmine Carson, a 3-point specialist who transferred from Memphis Central High to McEachern.
“Jasmine, she lived in Memphis and I played against her high school team and I kind of got to know her,” Dixon said. “She was a really good shooter, and she still is . . . Then we started playing AAU together.
“I met Elizabeth at a camp in Murfreesboro two summers ago. We didn’t get to play against each other, but I got to see her play. We kept in contact. I feel like I got to know her a lot better when we went to the McDonald’s game and the Jordan game . . . it makes me feel a whole lot better.”
There are more newcomers in 6-2 forward D’Asia Gregg of Florence, S.C., 5-7 sharp-shooting guard Lotta-Maj Lahtinen of Helsinki, Finland, and 5-7 guard Kondalia Montgomery of Tacoma, Wash. Kondalia is the younger sister of former Tech standout Alex Montgomery, and signed her letter of intent in the spring.
Joining a team that was 20-14 last season after it closed with a pair of wins in the WNIT before a 61-59 loss at Alabama, Dixon looks forward to helping Tech leading scorer Francesca Pan and other veterans as the Jackets chase greater success in the ACC and try to win an NCAA Tournament bid this season.
In the McDonald’s game, Dixon came off the bench and scored four points with five rebounds, three blocked shots, two assists and a steal.
Her time was short, yet that game may have foreshadowed what she can add to the Jackets. She’ll populate a box score.
“I make the hustle plays, grab rebounds, block shots for you. I can score in a variety of ways,” Dixon said. “I’m a pretty good passer. I can shoot, and there’s a lot to my game that [fans] are going to want to see.”
In the Jordan Classic Game April 18 in the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, Dixon again came off the bench and scored three points with five rebounds, two blocked shots and a steal. Balogun had 10 points, five rebounds and three assists.
The Jackets reported last week for classes, went through multiple orientation programs, and they’re now working out and participating in scattered practices, although they don’t yet include the entire team at the same time.
“One thing I’ve noticed from watching games on TV and seeing them in person, the girls are bigger, stronger, and also a lot smarter,” Dixon said. “I’m going to have to learn some new techniques and learn different ways to use what I already know and make it better.”
No matter what, Dixon will stay busy.
Her mother, Elizabeth, is a nurse, and her parents have encouraged her to think big. Her father, Richard, has helped guide her basketball decisions, and from time to time they will make the five-and-a-half hour trip from Memphis to see games.
With two classes now -- history and English -- Dixon will get even busier in the fall.
“Right now, I’m in biomedical engineering, but I might change that to microbiology,” she said. “I’m trying to be a doctor if going pro doesn’t work.”
Mom and dad might be a backup plan. Maybe when they visit for July 4th, they’ll take some of Liz’s gear back to Tennessee because she can’t fit everything she brought to Tech. And while she downsizes her gear, she hopes she’s finished upsizing her body.
“I brought little house-cleaning stuff, like Lysol spray and wipes. I brought a lot of shoes and electronic stuff. My iPad, mainly clothes. I brought a lot of clothes,” she said. “I can’t find clothes in stores that fit, so . . . hopefully, I’m done [growing].”
Well, hopefully, not on the basketball court.