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Homecoming For Another Undersized Former NCAA Star?

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The last couple of weeks has featured quite a motif of discussing former college stars here at Babble Central.  We mused about Sean May's comeback potential in Charlotte a while back and reminisced about Gerry McNamara last week.  Perhaps one more couldn't hurt.

May's year was 2005.  McNamara won a championship in 2003, starred in the NCAA tourney in 2004 and killed it in the Big East tournament in 2006.  Backwards we move: Our former college star du jour's finest hour came in 2002.

Indeed, Juan Dixon may be returning to the D.C. area to take a shot at making the Wizards' roster.

It's a nice story though tough to see this one working out.

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The Washington Post's Ivan Carter reported Sunday that the Wizards are interested in having Dixon aboard but that luxury tax restrictions will likely prevent the team from offering anything beyond a non-guaranteed contract at the veteran's minimum, forcing Dixon to try out in camp and earn his way onto the roster if he wants to stick for the season.   Sadly, it's the most sensible thing for the team to do.

Dixon is nearly as homegrown as it gets, having been born in Baltimore, played four years at the University of Maryland and spent his first three NBA seasons with the Wizards.  The guard was the star of the Terrapins' run to the national championship in the spring of 2002, averaging better than 20 points per game while shooting nearly 47 percent from the field and nearly 40 percent from the three-point line.

But despite his tournament heroics, Dixon fell to 17th in the 2002 draft.  Though he has been able to hang around in the league for the six years since then, he has never found a true home for himself, playing in four cities during his tenure.  Dixon has the savvy to play the game, but he simply doesn't have the physique for this league.

Dixon is a natural off-guard, but at 6-foot-3 and a measly 164 pounds, he isn't big enough to stay there in the NBA.  He doesn't have the explosive quickness required at that size to consistently get free for his own shot, and as a result his shooting accuracy has suffered in the pros.   Though he shot nearly 39 percent from behind the arc in college, Dixon has shot just 34.1 percent from three in his pro career and has a miserly 50.1 percent true shooting mark over that span as well.  He doesn't have the size or strength to defend most two-guards around the league, and he hasn't managed to be dynamic enough offensively to hold down a consistent role for himself.

All that said, this guy truly was fantastic back in the day.  He played inspired basketball in leading Maryland to that 2002 title, putting up four performances of 27 points or better in six NCAA tournament games that season and averaging 54.1 percent shooting from the field for the entirety of the Big Dance.  He was a leader in every regard and truly earned himself Most Outstanding Player honors.

Juan Dixon has a reputation as a good guy who knows the game but simply doesn't have the body for it.  He remains a fan favorite in the D.C. area, though the Wizards aren't in need of more folks to heave the ball up,.  The guess here remains that his pro hoops days are going to wind down sooner rather than later, but it would be nice to see the Wiz provide one more shot for a veteran homegrown talent.