🎙 The Jayhawker Podcast | Tamecka Dixon
Episode 22: Tamecka Dixon | June 4, 2020
She’s a two-time conference player of the year, a league’s founding member and a champion. And that’s just scratching the surface of Tamecka Dixon’s incredible career. This week on The Jayhawker podcast we dive inside the story of how a high school All-American from New Jersey became a collegiate All-American at Kansas and led the Jayhawk women’s basketball program to its first Sweet 16 appearance along the way.
As impressive as Dixon’s illustrious Kansas career was – she’s one of just four women to have their jersey hung in the Allen Fieldhouse rafters – her professional career puts her in rare company of Jayhawk alums to win titles and rack up All-Star berths at the highest level. And when speaking strictly about WNBA success, Dixon is in a league of her own.
So how did the Jayhawks pry away this Linden, New Jersey native in 1993? Dixon says it was all about KU’s legendary coach and the family culture she’d created at KU.
“Definitely Coach Marian Washington was THE reason I ended up at Kansas,” recalled Dixon. “I can’t say enough words about Coach Washington and her staff. They came in and fit right into my family structure and made a big impression not only on myself but my parents. They made a big impression on family and that’s what stood out to me.”
Dixon also saw Kansas as a program on the rise that was positioning itself for big things in the mid-90’s.
“They’d had a string of All-American players coming there,” described Dixon. “Starting, of course, with Lynette (Woodard) but then Angela Aycock and the next year they brought in Charisse Sampson who was also an All-American out of California, and then me. So, you could see they were building this powerhouse program. I wanted to be a part of something like that.”
Dixon’s dreams of contributing to a perennial power were realized at Kansas as she helped the Jayhawks make the NCAA tournament in each of her four seasons – including their first ever Sweet 16 berth in 1996. She also helped KU women win the final Big 8 Conference title (1996) and first Big 12 Conference championship (1997).
Along the road to that breakthrough team success, Dixon set milestones and racked up honors that only a select few Jayhawk women have ever approached. She averaged nearly 21 points per game as a senior en route to becoming just the fourth All-American in KU women’s basketball history. Beyond all the accolades though, Dixon says she just wants to be remembered as a player that brought it strong every day.
“When people think about Tamecka Dixon I hope they say that that young lady put her heart and her soul onto the court every time she hit it,” shared Dixon. “I want that to be my legacy that there was nothing left after I left the court at the end of each game. I played it with my heart, my soul and with a passion no one else played with.”
All of college basketball and professional scouts alike witnessed that type of passion and will to win out of Dixon at Kansas and it helped write her ticket to being the 14th overall selection in the inaugural WNBA draft. Dixon caught on in the WNBA as the league was first taking off and would become one of its very first prominent faces, teaming up with Lisa Leslie to win two championships with the Los Angeles Sparks. Dixon fondly recalls those championship seasons in LA and how they synced up with another Los Angeles franchise’s success.
“Those were some amazing years,” remembered Dixon. “And then on top of that, while we were winning our championships, the Lakers were also at the top. Those were our brothers and we kind of ran LA. 2001 and 2002 were amazing years for the city of Los Angeles and for all of its sports franchises.”
Learn more about Dixon’s impressive pro success as well as a special exchange she had with Kobe Bryant that she continues to use in helping motivate the next generation of women’s basketball players to this day. All of that, plus Dixon’s thoughts on the opportunity and responsibility to be role model to young female players everywhere can be heard on this week’s edition of The Jayhawker.