No. 16 USC seeing Reese Dixon-Waters becoming a contributor – Press Enterprise

Scoring has never been a problem for Reese Dixon-Waters. Whether it was at St. Bernard’s or Dorsey High, or even in the Drew League this summer, getting buckets has always come naturally for the shooting guard.

But when he arrived at USC halfway through the 2020-21 season, skipping his senior year at St. Bernard’s due to the uncertainty resulting from the pandemic, scoring wasn’t enough to get Dixon-Waters on the court. It rarely is on an Andy Enfield-coached team, in which you earn your minutes on the other side of the court.

That was a learning process for Dixon-Waters, who by his own admission did not enjoy defense earlier in his career. But after a year at USC, practicing and learning the team’s concepts, the pendulum has swung in the other direction.

“I personally like playing defense more than offense right now,” Dixon-Waters said. “I understood that defense would get me on the floor. And that was something that I wanted to make an impact on and be known for.”

For a freshman who was supposed to still be in high school, Dixon-Waters discovered last winter was full of life lessons. Even beyond the basketball and the difficulties of joining a veteran team midseason, there was the adjustment to college life and living away from his family.

“Having to buy my own groceries, taking care of my own money, be on time places. It changed my perspective on time,” Dixon-Waters said. “It really opened my eyes a lot in terms of living on my own.”

It also allowed Dixon-Waters a head start on his fellow 2021 signees on learning from the USC coaches and players at practices. He was there on the bench for the Trojans’ Elite Eight run in March, watching and waiting for his time.

It did not come immediately at the start of this season, but his teammates told him to be patient in the interim.

“I’ve been in his ear all season, like, ‘Yo, it’s gonna. I can’t tell you when it’s gonna come, but it’s gonna come,’” Isaiah Mobley said. “‘So just stay ready.’ “

His moment came last week against Oregon State. The Trojans fell behind early, with Beavers guard Jarod Lucas burning them repeatedly from 3-point range.

With USC needing a spark, Enfield turned to Dixon-Waters. The redshirt freshman delivered with a game-high plus/minus of 19, making Lucas’ shots more difficult while adding a clutch second-half 3-pointer, making all six of his free throws and saving a ball from going out of bounds to assist Drew Peterson on a 3.

For Dixon-Waters, it was the moment he had been waiting for, the validation that his work had paid off and he was ready to contribute for No. 16 USC.

“Everything kind of came together, me having to guard their best player and the physicality,” Dixon-Waters said. “Especially defensively, having to guard someone like that was fun. I was comfortable on offense, I was comfortable on defense.”

Maybe in the future, Dixon-Waters will be looked at as a primary scorer for USC. But he understands his role for the time being: Play hard on defense and fit into the flow of the game on the other side of the court.

“Minutes are earned on this roster,” Enfield said, “and he sure earned some minutes.”


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