- The Washington Times - Wednesday, March 13, 2002

Juan Dixon came to Maryland with little fanfare and questions of whether he could make an impact in the ACC. The shooting guard will leave College Park as the conference's top player.

Dixon was named ACC Player of the Year yesterday in a surprise decision over Duke's Jason Williams, the reigning National Player of the Year. Dixon, a 6-foot-3, 164-pound senior, also was selected as an All-American by the Associated Press. The Baltimore resident is the first Maryland player to be chosen ACC Player of the Year or AP first-team All-American since Joe Smith in 1995.

"I never expected to win [the ACC award]," said Dixon, who averages 19.3 points, 4.8 rebounds and 2.7 steals. "It was really never my goal, but I'll take it. Really, I'm happy with my accomplishments. There are so many guys out there, and everyone always said it was going to go to Jason Williams."

Dixon did not get a majority of the votes but did receive 41 of 84 among media that cover the ACC, followed by Williams with 38. Duke's Mike Dunleavy got four votes and N.C. State's Anthony Grundy one.

Dixon and Williams also were named to the All-America team, along with Kansas forward Drew Gooden and guards Steve Logan of Cincinnati and Dan Dickau of Gonzaga. Williams, a junior who has announced he will leave for the NBA after this season, was the only unanimous selection.

Dixon is the catalyst of the ACC regular-season champion Terrapins, who ended Duke's five-season run on that title. Nationally fourth-ranked, Maryland has a 26-4 record and went 15-1 in the conference.

The defensive standout led the league in free throw shooting with his 90.3 percentage. Dixon was second in the league in scoring behind Williams (21.7 points) and has scored 2,114 points in his career. Dixon needs 36 points to surpass Len Bias as the program's all-time leading scorer. He is only the second Maryland player, along with John Lucas, to be named all-ACC three consecutive seasons.

"He's just continued to work on his game to get better every year," said Maryland coach Gary Williams, the ACC's Coach of the Year. "He's also given us the player that really wants to win. I think any time you can impose your will on a team in a positive way, it's a very valuable thing. Juan has given us that in addition to his ability to score and play defense."

Dixon first received national attention for overcoming the circumstances of both his parents dying of AIDS caused by drug use while he was in high school. He was a third-team All-American last season while guiding the Terps to their first Final Four. Maryland's 25-3 regular-season record this season was its best ever. He is the fourth Maryland player to win the ACC's top individual honor, joining Albert King (1980), Bias (1985, '86) and Smith (1995).


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