Iowa's Dixon Is GTL's Top Pick

By Sam Louwagie, Reporter

Iowa's Melissa Dixon (21) passes around Middle Tennessee's Kortni Jones (24) in the second half of play of the semi-final game of the women's preseason NIT tournament at Carver-Hawkeye Arena on Wednesday November 14, 2012. The Hawkeyes defeated the visiting Blue Raiders 69-63 in overtime to advance and play North Carolina in the WNIT finals on Sunday. (Justin Torner/Freelance)


By Grant Burkhardt

IOWA CITY, Iowa — Randy Larson doesn’t think Melissa Dixon is the best player in the Game Time League. But he made last season’s Big Ten Sixth Player of the Year the first pick in the league’s draft last night anyway.

“People who now me probably wouldn’t say it was a surprise,” he said after the draft. “I want people who play all-out, and she brings that. She’s a weapon. She can make all your inside players better, and can guard three positions.”

With Iowa’s all-Big Ten point guard Samantha Logic and former second-team all-conference center Morgan Johnson available, Larson — the commissioner of the Prime Time and Game Time leagues, as well as a coach in both — decided Dixon’s combination of tenacious defense and “once in a generation” 3-point shooting was too much to pass up.

“It’s always good when your top player is also your hardest-working,” he said. “And on offense, she gets her shot off so quick, and it doesn’t hurt her accuracy.”

Coach Brian Joens took Logic with the second pick, followed by forward Bethany Doolittle with the third. Former Iowa player and current student assistant Hannah Draxten, coaching a Game Time team for the first time, picked Johnson with the fourth pick, and Iowa senior Theairra Taylor rounded out the first round.

In the second round, Joens thought incoming Hawkeye freshman guard Alexa Kastanek was the best player left on the board. But he already had taken Logic in the first round, and Larson didn’t know whether Hawkeye coach Lisa Bluder wanted her recruit to spend the summer developing as a point guard.

For the first time in 27 years, Larson said, he had to halt the draft in order to call a coach and ask about whether a player could join a certain team.

“There wouldn’t be a league if it wasn’t trying to help the Iowa women’s basketball program get better,” he said. “We want it to be developmental for them. I hadn’t seen enough of (Kastanek) to know if they wanted her to become a point guard. I didn’t want the coaches to say ‘Oh no, she can’t be doing that.’ So we just had to make sure.”

The Game Time League kicks off Wednesday.

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