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William & Mary Alum Daniel Dixon Shines In G League Player Invitational

Guest contributor Vijay Vemu talks to former William & Mary Daniel Dixon at the G League Player Invitational

NCAA Basketball: CAA Conference Tournament - Hofstra vs William & Mary Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

In the 1983 NBA Draft, the San Antonio Spurs selected power forward Brant Weidner. He ended up only playing eight games for the Spurs but became an important figure in the basketball history for his college team of William & Mary. Weidner is still the latest W&M alumni to play in the NBA. Although the Tribe has had two players drafted, with the most recent being in 2015, neither of those players has played in an NBA game. It’s been a 33 year drought for the William & Mary Tribe but guard Daniel Dixon is trying to re-write history for the small school in Williamsburg, Virginia.

Dixon was the Tribe’s best player last season, averaging 19.3 points and 4.7 rebounds per game while shooting 48.2 percent from the field. It was a huge leap in his game as his scoring game averaged went up 7 points from his junior year. He was a knock down shooter for the Tribe and expanded his game to even new heights in his final year of college. Despite Dixon’s strong play the Tribe struggled throughout the 2016-17 season and their season ended with a loss to UNC-Wilmington in the semi-finals of the CAA tournament.

With his college days in the rear view mirror, it’s time for Dixon to take on a new challenge: getting to the NBA.

It’s been a tough journey so far for Dixon. Going undrafted in this past years draft and not even being on a Summer League team certainly attests to that. Dixon, however, was invited to the G League Player Invitational that was held in Chicago this past weekend.

Along with some other top undrafted players, Dixon was able to put his abilities on display in front of many NBA and G League scouts with the hopes of being offered a spot on a G League roster or even hit jackpot with a two-way contract. In his two scrimmage games, he scored 12 and 8 points respectively and looked comfortable in a secondary scoring role. Dixon also showed that he could do more than just scoring the ball, helping out on the glass along with playing some solid defense.

Given the limit roster spots in the G League, the pressure was on the players to show that they got and Dixon certainly showed his potential.

“I really just want to showcase that I can shoot the ball and defend and I felt like I showed that today”, said Dixon when asked about his performance during the Invitational and what he can improve on moving into next season.

When it comes to the NBA G League, many teams are not looking for just pure scorers. They are searching for glue guys to come off the bench and give productive minutes. Being a solid two-way player is a great way to guys to land on a G League roster and hopefully for some, on an NBA roster in the future. Players like Dixon will have to show that they are more than one-dimensional if they want a shot.

Dixon is also in a unique situation considering that he played college ball for four years, something that isn’t a common trait for many modern NBA players. While there are certainly negatives for a college basketball player to stay all four years, positives are certainly present as well. Dixon acknowledged some of those when asked.

“The game started to slow down (for me) each year and I think that coming into this level with experience is a good thing”, he answered.

Events such as the G League Player Invitational are great exposure for the league itself and for its potential players. It gives teams a chance to potentially find a guy who could be “ a diamond in the rough” while also helping legitimize the G League as a place where players can develop their skills. These events also offer players, like Dixon, another shot at their dream of making the NBA.

“I think it’s great. It’s an opportunity to showcase your talents in front of NBA people which is always a blessing”, Dixon said when asked about the importance of these events.

Coming out of a small school and trying to make the NBA is always a challenge. It’s a long journey and the chances of making it are slim. With the NBA G League becoming a more established league by the passing day, many players are now inclined to use it as a stepping-stone to reach the ultimate goal.

That’s why its key for players like Daniel Dixon to show out in these events because opportunities like this doesn’t come very often. At the Invitational, Dixon stood out and showed he can be of value for a G-League team. If he makes a G-League roster, Dixon will be one step closer to reaching his goal of playing in the NBA. All he needs is a chance.