Eric Dixon could have played basketball at almost any high school in the country.
Archbishop Carroll attempted to poach Dixon from Abington, but he turned it down. Findlay Prep, a basketball program in Nevada with a track record of sending players to the NBA, reached out to him after his sophomore year. Dixon ignored those texts.
What about Montverde Academy? Could the Florida basketball powerhouse that has produced NBA talents such as 76ers All-Stars Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid and Brooklyn Nets guard D’Angelo Russell persuade Dixon to leave Abington? Nope.
Dixon chose to stay home at Abington, and the four-star Villanova-bound forward said he wouldn’t change a thing about his career as a Ghost.
“The pride that I saw that I could bring to the community just kept me home,” said Dixon, the 2018-19 boys’ basketball player of the year. “It was just too good to pass up.”
In his senior year, Dixon averaged a double-double with 27.9 points and 11.6 rebounds per game. He leaves Abington as the program’s all-time leading scorer with 2,454 career points, most points scored in a single season, with 838, and as the only player in school history to eclipse the career 2,000 point mark.
It doesn’t stop there.
Dixon helped the Ghosts finish with a 28-2 record this season and make an appearance in the USA Today Super 25 for the first time in school history. Abington also won its third straight PIAA Class 6A District 1 title with Dixon leading the charge, with 38 points in a thrilling overtime win over Coatesville.
“We knew that every night he was going to make a major impact in every single game that he played in whether it was scoring, rebounding or blocking shots,” Abington coach Charles Grasty said.
Grasty will obviously miss Dixon’s ability to produce consistently next season, but he won’t be missed only on the court. The coach said he will miss Dixon’s presence in the hallways at school and in the Montgomery County area.
As Dixon worked tirelessly to bring a state championship to the team he grew up watching, he matched that effort off the court and gave back to his community.
Dixon is involved in Athletes Helping Athletes, a program started to help special needs athletes participate in sports. He helps people in the program twice a month by teaching the fundamentals of basketball.
“Eric is an inspiration to a lot of the younger kids in the community and even some of the guys in our program,” senior forward Lucas Monroe said. “He’s kind of someone you can aspire to be like if you’re not an athlete. You can say, ‘I’m going to work as hard as him at whatever my craft is.’ I think that’s something that people will miss a lot.”
Rhonda Paules, the assistant athletic director at Abington, organizes events for the school’s sports teams.
Every year, Paules plans a trip for the boys’ and girls’ basketball players to read books to elementary school students in the district. Last week, the squads went to Dixon’s old school, Willow Hill.
“I try my best to give back to the community, so if going back there to say some words and read a few words makes them happy, I’m more than glad to do it,” Dixon said.
Paules, who is also Dixon’s guidance counselor, said he has never refused to participate in an event that benefits his neighborhood. She has had Dixon hand out candy to elementary school students during Halloween and volunteer at college fairs.
Like Paules, Abington assistant principal Cosimo Fiorino leaned on students such as Dixon and Monroe to help others. Last winter, Fiorino asked Dixon and Monroe to mentor students who were having difficulty in school, and they were more than happy to cooperate.
Monroe said he and Dixon try to help students set goals and emphasize the benefits that a disciplined work effort built through education can pay dividends in the future.
Dixon has "always had the ability to look at the much bigger picture,” Paules said. “This is how he plays the game, too. He looks at it beyond just himself.”
Although Dixon won’t be enrolled at Abington next year, he won’t be far away at Villanova, and people in his neighborhood already have plans to travel to the Main Line to support their homegrown talent.
“You’d be surprised how many times after the season that guys in my community are like, ‘We can’t wait to come to Villanova games,’ ” Dixon said. “In the YMCA, people will stop me, at the Wawa, in the supermarket, just showing me the impact I can make with just playing basketball.”