Melissa Dixon was in the crowd this summer for concerts by country singers Kenny Chesney and Keith Urban, along with rock bands Matchbox 20 and the Goo Goo Dolls.
When she wasn’t singing along with some of her favorite tunes, Dixon was putting on a show of her own on the basketball court.
Dixon, a Johnsburg graduate, averaged 33 points a game to lead the Game Time League, an Iowa summer league open to high school, college and professional players.
“The league is a lot of fun,” Dixon said.
A guard at Iowa who will be a junior this fall, Dixon also led the league with 25 3-pointers and hit 46 percent of her long-range shots. She added 7.3 rebounds and 3.8 assists a game.
“I think it was a good experience for her,” said Randy Larson, who made Dixon the league’s No. 1 overall draft pick and coached her for the Vinton Merchant/Culver’s team. “She’s the kind of player I love. I was going to draft her no matter what pick I had.”
Dixon, who was the Big Ten Conference’s Sixth Player of the Year last season, finished as Iowa’s third-leading scorer (10.7 points a game) despite starting only three games. With the graduation of the team’s top two scorers, Morgan Johnson (14.4) and Jamie Printy (12.7), Dixon likely will shoulder more of the Hawkeyes’ scoring load as a junior.
With that in mind, she expanded her skills this summer by not just relying on her 3-point shooting skills.
Larson said that when Dixon encountered defenders guarding her closely near the 3-point line, she showed the ability to drive to the basket for a layup or a shorter shot.
“It was fun to see,” Larson said. “It made her impossible to cover.”
While leading her team to a 4-1 record in league play, Dixon opened the season with a 41-point effort.
“It did bring back some memories from high school,” Dixon said. “One of the things I wanted to work on was to be better off the dribble.”
Her 82 percent free-throw accuracy this summer also was 11 percentage points higher than her sophomore season.
Scoring was just part of Dixon’s improvement.
“I wanted to improve my overall game,” Dixon said. “I can take it to the basket or pull up for a jump shot. I wanted to become a better passer.”
Dixon, who won Iowa’s Hardest Worker Award last season, also saw expanded work on defense.
“She’ll continue to be a terrific defender,” Larson said. “She guarded some point guards and small forwards this summer, too. That will help her.”
With her expanded skills, Dixon is looking to make a big impact for the Hawkeyes this season.
“My first two years, I was willing to do whatever I could to help the team,” Dixon said. “I was happy just to be on the floor. This year, I want to become more of a leader.”
Augie honors: Richmond-Burton grad Josh Eisenberg has been chosen for the Capital One Academic All-America third team in track and field this summer.
Eisenberg, a pre-med major with a 3.97 grade-point average, is a multi-event track and field specialist for D-III Augustana. He will serve as a team captain for the 2014 season.
Eisenberg holds the school record in the indoor heptathlon and specialized last season outdoors in the decathlon. He has placed five times during his career in the College Conference of Illinois and Wisconsin meet, including third in the decathlon during the spring season.
On July 26, Eisenberg was recognized by the U.S. Track and Field/Cross Country Coaches Association as a member of the organization’s All-Academic Team, which recognizes academic and athletic prowess. Members of the team must have at least a 3.3 GPA and have qualified for the NCAA championships or placed in the top 35 nationally in their event.
New Missouri home: Crystal Lake Central grad Dana Shannon is a member of this season’s volleyball roster at D-II Missouri S&T University.
Shannon, a sophomore libero, transferred after one season at Newman University in Kansas. Last fall, she played in all 23 matches for Newman (4-19) and ranked third on the team with 2.4 digs a set.
Missouri S&T finished 20-13 last season and won its second consecutive Great Lakes Valley Conference West Division title.
• Barry Bottino writes a weekly column and a blog about local college athletes for the Northwest Herald. Write to him at BarryOnCampus@hotmail.com, check out his On Campus blog at McHenryCountySports.com and follow him on Twitter @BarryOnCampus.