Entering his junior season at Abington, Eric Dixon is making the transition from a good, young basketball player to a true standout and not just locally.
The 16-year-old, a 6-foot-7, 240-pound forward, has been one of the area's most productive young players the last two years. As a sophomore, the left-hander with an advanced post game and range out to the three-point line averaged 19.2 points for a Ghosts squad that won the District 1 6A championship.
But it was this offseason that really changed Dixon's world.
There was the college attention. Dixon's first scholarship offer, from St. Joseph's, came last December. His 13th, from Villanova, came on Nov. 15. In between, high-major programs such as Miami (Fla.), Virginia, Pitt, Penn State, Georgetown, Oklahoma State and Rutgers have joined each of the City 6 besides Penn in offering a scholarship.
Dixon was hoping to get Villanova head coach Jay Wright to join the list since Dixon's hoops journey began.
The Wildcats "are a lot of people in my town's favorite team. My town, my community was looking for it," he said. "It was just one of those things that I was just looking for for my community."
Dixon stressed that he's still considering all the schools that are involved — he mentioned Rutgers, St. Joe's, Villanova, Oklahoma State and Virginia as the schools in touch most often — and isn't in any rush to end his recruitment. In the last few months, he and his parents have visited Pitt, Penn State, Georgetown, Virginia, Oklahoma State and the local schools, taking in games at 'Nova, St. Joe's, Rutgers and Seton Hall since the season has gotten underway.
Like many high school students, Dixon said he plans on playing out his final AAU season next year and taking his official visits in the fall before a decision in the weeks leading up to his senior year. By the time next August rolls around, his list of suitors could look much different.
As Dixon's recruitment went national, so did his playing opportunities. A participant in a USA Basketball mini-camp last summer, Dixon was invited back to try out for the national 16-under team this past summer, where he was among the final few players cut.
One thing that isn't going to change is Dixon's approach to his raised profile. Abington head coach Charles Grasty is also one of Dixon's teachers this year, in a business law class. In October, Dixon had to miss a few days of school for another USA Basketball mini-camp, but he still came in for a half day to give a presentation in that class before his flight.
When his classmates inquired why Dixon was leaving early that day, the hoops star balked. His coach had to do the bragging for him.
"He was like, 'Come on, Coach, don't embarrass me,' " Grasty said, "And I'm like, 'Dude, you're going to the USA Training Camp, like be proud of your hard work.' And he's like, 'Come on, Coach, that's embarrassing.' "
Offers and interest
Another highly touted local junior, Imhotep's Donta Scott, recently visited the University of South Carolina, where he picked up an offer from the Gamecocks' staff. A 6-7 wing with a rapidly developing skill set, he's also being pursued by Temple, La Salle, St. Joe's, UConn and Penn State.
Wildwood Catholic guard Caleb Fields jumped on an offer from Bowling Green, committing to the Falcons on Nov. 22. The 6-1 combo guard with a smooth outside stroke had also been offered by NJIT and Binghamton and was being recruited by several other mid-major schools, including Drexel.
Central Bucks West senior wing Collin MacAdams committed to D-II California University (Pa.) earlier in November. A 6-5 wing, MacAdams averaged 16.2 ppg and 7.2 ppg as a junior, and is a capable scorer from all three levels.
Bishop Shanahan 2018 PF Kevin Dodds committed to D-II Gannon (Pa.) on Nov. 11. A 6-6 post player with a good mid-range game, Dodds was a starter on last year's Shanahan team that made the Ches-Mont finals and earned a spot in the PIAA Class 5A playoffs.
University of the Sciences landed a commitment from Haverford School senior point guard Kharon Randolph on Nov. 8. Randolph, a 5-11 point guard and three-year starter for the Fords, had also heard from D-IIs Millersville, West Chester and East Stroudsburg before making his decision.
Cardinal O'Hara point guard Antwuan "Booty" Butler committed to Austin Peay in October. The 6-0 point guard, who formerly played at Del-Val Charter until its closing, is reuniting with former head coach Jason Harrigan at O'Hara.
Drexel's only commitment for next year thus far is a Pittsburgh guard with local ties. Quaker Valley (Pa.)'s Coletrane Washington spent eight years living in Germantown before moving to the western part of the state with his parents when he was in middle school.
Father Judge senior wing Tom Quarry committed to D-III Johns Hopkins on Nov. 14, choosing Hopkins over Swarthmore and Ursinus. A 6-6 small forward, Quarry comes from an athletic background; his parents, Tom and Heather, were both swimmers at Temple.
Josh Verlin is owner and editor-in-chief of CityofBasketballLove.com, and a philly.com contributor on basketball recruiting.