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Filling his father's Nikes

dixon

The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree when it comes to freshman guard Michael Dixon Jr., left, whose father,  Michael Dixon Sr., right, holds the career assists record at San Jose (Calif.) State University. Photos by Joel Kowsky/MU Intercollegiate Athletics (left) and Ron Fried (right)

Unless spectators saw him in action at Lee’s Summit (Mo.) West High School, most Tiger basketball fans are just now getting to know freshman Mike Dixon Jr. Mizzou opponents, however, are already tired of the energetic 6-foot-1 guard — and they have three more years to endure.

Dixon has moved with ease into an occasional starting role thanks to his icy demeanor, keen court sense and silky moves. But some of those traits, though honed through hard work on the hardwood, come naturally thanks to his DNA.

His father, Mike Dixon Sr., played basketball at San Jose (Calif.) State University from 1981–85. The family still lives in Lee’s Summit, but when he was a guard in the Golden State, Dixon Sr. set the school record for career assists with 477. The Spartan mark still stands.

As of Feb. 16, 2010, Dixon Jr. was third on the team with 47 assists and the leader in free-throw-shooting percentage (84). But according to Jr., the most important lesson he learned from his father had little to do with accumulating stats.

“He taught me to always play with passion and that defense is No. 1,” Dixon Jr. says.

Both elements are paramount in Coach Mike Anderson’s Fastest 40 Minutes in Basketball, but passion was never lacking for Dixon Jr., according to his father.

“As soon he was old enough to stand, he had a ball in his hands,” Dixon Sr. says.

Over the years, father and son have played countless one-on-one games. Dixon Jr. beat his dad for the first time when he was 12 years old. But even though Dixon Sr. acknowledges his son is now a better player than he ever was, the kid still has more than 400 assists to go to catch his old man.

“He used to cry because he wanted to beat me so bad,” Dixon Sr. says. “Then my age and his height caught up with me. By the time he was in high school, it was all over.”