- The Washington Times - Wednesday, June 26, 2002

Juan Dixon has heard it all before. Supposedly, he was too short, too skinny and not skilled enough to produce at the next level. Those criticisms came when he was an unheralded high school recruit on his way to Maryland.
Now, with the NBA Draft looming tonight, the All-American and catalyst of the Terrapins' national championship team is getting negative feedback again: The Final Four MVP and ACC Player of the Year is too frail and his ballhandling too suspect for him to make a living against the world's best players."Yeah, I've heard some of that," Maryland's career scoring leader said. "A lot of people have knocked me. But I've been proving you guys wrong for four years. My goal is to do that again."
Dixon is one of four former Terps hoping to hear their names called at the draft in New York. Chris Wilcox will go first. The 6-foot-10, 225-pounder is a sure-fire lottery pick and likely top-seven selection because of his NBA-type frame and raw athleticism. Wilcox, who turns 20 on Aug.[ThSp]3, saw his stock rise late in the regular season and then skyrocket in the NCAA tournament. "You never know until draft day, but I have a great chance of going high in the draft," Wilcox said.
China's Yao Ming (Houston), Duke's Jay Williams (Chicago) and Mike Dunleavy Jr. (Golden State) are expected to be the top three picks. Memphis could choose Wilcox with the fourth selection but is more likely to take Kansas' Drew Gooden or Connecticut's Caron Butler. Wilcox should go as the sixth pick [-] which is owned by Cleveland but could be traded to Milwaukee [-] or New York at No.[ThSp]7.
Like Dixon, Maryland center Lonny Baxter may be a victim of his smaller-than-prototype height (he recently measured at 6-73/4) and is destined for the second round. Small forward Byron Mouton hopes he played well enough in NBA pre-draft camps to be taken late in the second round.
But it is the draft status of Dixon that is as mysterious as a Robert Ludlum novel. The 6-3, 165-pound guard is a polished senior in a draft pool overflowing with unproven underclassmen. Many of those so-called "projects" [-] including Wilcox [-] will be taken well ahead of Dixon, a finished product who could contribute immediately.
No one seems to have a clear sense of where Dixon may end up. His agent, Nate Peake, is confident he will be taken in the first round with anywhere from the 16th to 25th selections. Most mock drafts have him as a borderline first-round (top 28) pick who easily could slide into the second round.
"He's in the first-round range," said Knicks general manager Scott Layden, who expects Dixon to be gone when his team drafts 36th. "He has so many intangibles and so many qualities you like in a player. He's in that category of players that find a way to play. He just keeps winning. There's something about guys like him. Everybody has what's wrong, or what he can't do, or his size. He plays with a big heart."
The questions range from whether Dixon's beanstalk frame can endure the pounding of an 82-game regular season against physical competition to whether his ballhandling has improved enough for him to convert to point guard. Dixon, who averaged 20.4 points last season, clearly has shown he can shoot from NBA 3-point range, is a top defender and is a potential positive role model because of his work ethic. However, it remains uncertain how much those attributes will mean tonight.
"I've been traveling all over the place while working out for 13 teams," he said. "I can't wait until it's over so I can prove to everybody I belong in the NBA."

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