By Kevin McPherson
LITTLE ROCK — Arkansas’s coaching staff reached out to 2019 Demontay Dixon (6-9, 205, forward, Walters State Community College in Tennessee) in early September, and after taking time to review his game footage in a video package that was sent several weeks ago, Hogs’ assistant coach T.J. Cleveland traveled to Tennessee on Friday to watch Dixon play.
“They just came to see me play yesterday, (it was) coach Cleveland,” Dixon confirmed on Saturday.
Dixon, who is a freshman qualifier with three years of playing eligibility at the NCAA Division 1 level beginning in ’19-20, has started all 10 games for Walters State, averaging 22.5 minutes, 14.7 points, 7.4 rebounds, and 1.5 assists while shooting 52.1% field goals (including 5-of-13 from 3 for 38.5%) and 71.4% free throws. He recently picked up offers from Wichita State, Middle Tennessee State, Marshall, and Evansville with Virginia Commonwealth and Arkansas showing interest. Dixon will sign in the spring period that begins in mid-April.
“I have plenty of interest from schools,” Dixon said, adding that he is “interested in Arkansas as well.”
Walters State assistant coach Darrian Jones, who sent that game tape to Cleveland in October, said the feedback from Cleveland regarding Dixon has been positive.
“He liked him,” Jones said. “He wants to come see him again soon for more (evaluation).”
Dixon is a skilled and bouncy big, and when asked in September if that was a fair assessment of him, he said: “Yes, that’s pretty accurate.”
“At the next level I will play the 4,” Dixon said in September. “I am an all-around player. I can handle the ball pretty well for a big man and I can run the floor. Also, I can shoot the ball.”
Dixon was originally Class of 2018 when he played at Summit High School in Spring Hill, TN, as well as with Team Thad 17U (Under Armour Association circuit) during the grassroots season, but he suffered a labrum injury and had surgery which affected him during his senior season at Summit. Still, he managed to average 18 points, 10 rebounds, and 2 blocks per game.
He signed early (November 2017) with Illinois State. But, Dixon requested a release from his letter of intent in the spring of 2018 and ended up playing a few weekends during the grassroots season with Manimal Elite (KY) 17U on the Adidas Gauntlet circuit as he reopened his recruitment to explore his options. He ended up enrolling at Walters State CC for the current 2018-19 season.
Andre Whitehead of HoopSeen.com had this to say about Dixon in November 2017 shortly after Dixon had signed with Illinois State: “Keep an eye out for Demontay Dixon (Summit), who will attend Illinois State in the fall. The 6’9 athletic marvel has a chance to be a special talent if he can stay healthy and continue to emerge skill wise. He is a true late bloomer who has all the necessary tools to be a really nice prospect.”
Dixon is another frontline prospect in a long line of 2019 bigs that Arkansas has evaluated in anticipation of the early departure of sophomore center Daniel Gafford, who is projected to declare for the 2019 NBA Draft after the ’18-19 season.
The linked in-game highlight reel (see below) from Dixon’s junior season (January 2017, pre-injury) gives you an idea of his all-around game and bounce … he matched up against a loaded Hamilton Heights team that featured Shai Gilgeous-Alexander (Kentucky, 2018 NBA Draft lottery pick) …
More Arkansas recruiting updates
Here’s the latest on 2020, 2021, and 2022 prospects …
— 2020 Arkansas offer Moses Moody (6-5 shooting guard, Little Rock native, Montverde Academy in Florida, ESPN national No. 19 / a 5-star prospect) has led Montverde Academy in scoring in each of two exhibition games as well as the regular-season-opener, and Arkansas head coach Mike Anderson and associate head coach Melvin Watkins were on hand last week to watch him play in one of those games. Texas head coach Shaka Smart was also at Montverde to watch Moody, who holds offers from the Hogs, Oklahoma, Baylor, Oklahoma State, Florida State, Texas, Texas A&M, Ole Miss, Illinois, Missouri, Florida, Texas Tech, Stanford, and SMU. Moody took the first of his junior-year official visits to Arkansas the weekend of Oct. 19-21.
— 2020 Davonte Davis (6-3 point guard, Jacksonville, ESPN national No. 58 / 4-star prospect) committed to Oklahoma State on Sunday. Davis, who had taken official visits to Auburn and Oklahoma State, recently missed back-to-back planned unofficial visits to Arkansas (Nov. 10 and Nov. 18). On Tuesday, Cowboys head coach Mike Boynton was in Jacksonville to watch as Davis had 15 points, 8 rebounds, and 6 assists in the Titans’ 67-62 win over Estem. Anderson and Watkins, who were in central Arkansas on Tuesday to evaluate at least three other in-state prospects, did not attend the Jacksonville-Estem game. Davis reported offers from Arkansas, Oregon, Florida, Oklahoma State, Auburn, Ole Miss, and others.
— — 2020 Arkansas offer Jaylin Williams (6-10 forward / center, Fort Smith Northside) continues to put up double-doubles to start the 2018-19 season. Over the weekend at the Arlington (TX) Classic, Williams had 14 points, 10 rebounds, 4 blocks, and 2 assists in a Grizzlies’ win over Arlington Bowie, and he followed that up with 15 points, 12 rebounds, 5 blocks, 3 steals, and 1 assist in the Grizzlies’ win over DeSoto. On Nov. 20 — with Arkansas head coach Mike Anderson and associate head coach Melvin Watkins in attendace — Williams had a double-double in a road win over Fayetteville. A few days prior to that, he had had 21 points, 14 rebounds, 4 assists, and 1 steal matching up against ESPN national No. 59 / 4-star prospect Nick Ongenda, a 6-10 center for Southwest Christian Academy. Williams said last week that Iowa State, Auburn, and Arkansas State have begun to show recruiting interest. In addition to the Hogs, Williams holds offers from Oklahoma State, TCU, Tulsa, and Lamar. He has taken a few unofficial visits since October — twice for Arkansas games and once to Oklahoma State — and he said he plans to schedule one of his junior-season official visits to Arkansas some time in 2019.
— 2020 Arkansas offer Gerald Doakes (6-1 combo guard, Milby High School in Houston by way of Jacksonville, reported offers from Texas A&M, Florida, Illinois, Oklahoma State, Ole Miss, and others) took an unoficial visit to Houston on Saturday to watch the Cougars defeat then-15th-ranked Oregon, 65-61. On Wednesday, Nov. 28, Doakes gave a quick season / recruiting update: “I’m doing good so far, averaging 25 points per game. I get texts every day (from Arkansas associate head coach Melvin Watkins). They’re coming to watch me soon, and I’m taking a visit (to Arkansas) soon.”
— Arkansas head coach Mike Anderson and assistant head coach Melvin Watkins were in central Arkansas on Tuesday, Nov. 27, to watch multiple prospects. They were at Sylvan Hills practice to see 2021 Jalen Ricks (6-5 combo guard who is arguably the top in-state prospect in his class) as well as 2022 combo guard Nick Smith, Jr. (6-3 combo guard). Both Ricks and Smith recently picked up Oklahoma State offers after an unofficial visit to Stillwater on Nov. 18. Ricks, who also holds a TCU offer, has said that Arkansas is his leader and reaffirmed that on Wednesday: “It felt good that they (Arkansas coaches) were in attendance (during Sylvan Hills practice). They are still top 3 for sure, at the head of the list.” Later the same day, Anderson and Watkins attended a matchup between West Memphis and Little Rock Parkview to watch 2020 Arkansas offer Chris Moore (6-6 combo forward), who finished with 22 points (8-of-14 field goals and 6-of-8 free throws), 14 rebounds, 4 blocks, 1 steal, and 1 drawn charge in the Blue Devils’ 64-62 overtime road loss to the Patriots. Moore was grateful that Arkansas coaches were there to watch him: “It makes me feel good to know they were here tonight.”