Photo by Jim Agnew
Any good basketball player knows the key to winning a game is teamwork. Once he steps on the court, he goes from thinking about one man to thinking about five. Each player has to put in the work or else the whole team will suffer. To make sure the shooting guard properly executes the pick, the power forward boxes out his man to push him away from the hoop. Then the point guard finds that opening to hit the lay-up with ease — it’s the collaboration necessary to make a team successful. For Omar Prewitt ’17 and Daniel Dixon ’17, during four years full of triumph and loss on the William & Mary basketball team, the two senior captains have worked together to form the team that they are on today. For both players, their love of the sport began at home.
At the root of Prewitt’s basketball career is his mother, Lea. “She played college basketball herself, and she was a coach pretty much her entire life,” Prewitt says. “So she was definitely my biggest influence.”
After playing basketball at the University of Kentucky and having a successful career coaching at Centre College, she turned her focus to her three children, all of whom played basketball. She was the one to encourage Prewitt to focus on basketball. “When I got to high school, my mom said if I wanted to play a sport in college then I probably needed to pick one sport, and that happened to be basketball,” Prewitt says.
In 2012, when Prewitt signed his letter of intent to play for the Tribe, he did so without hesitation, aware of how special this opportunity was.
“I knew that basketball was definitely something I wanted to do going forward,” Prewitt says. “When you get a chance to play a college sport, and not too many people get that chance, you take it. It is definitely an honor and something I knew I wanted to do.”
Like Prewitt, Dixon’s love of basketball stemmed from his family. “My dad has been my coach since I was really, really young,” Dixon says. “I think he was definitely the biggest influence along with my brothers, who also played basketball.”
Dixon not only played basketball in high school, but also ran track like his father, who ran for Boston University. Eventually, Dixon turned his focus to basketball, aiming to play in college.
He found himself committing to the William & Mary basketball team with the same feelings as Prewitt. “Just to know that you are one of the few in the country who are blessed enough to play college basketball while getting your education paid for is so amazing,” Dixon says. “I don’t think there’s anything better when it comes to the college experience.”
When Prewitt and Dixon started at William & Mary their freshman year, they joined a team with superstars like Marcus Thornton ’15 and Terry Tarpey ’16, who both have gone on to play professional basketball. At the end of their freshman season, the team was in the 2014 CAA Championship. Both players could feel themselves inches away from the win, which would have given the team the first NCAA Tournament bid in Tribe basketball history. In the final game against the Delaware Blue Hens, William & Mary was behind by one point in the last 10 seconds of the game. Thornton threw up a shot which hit the rim and bounced off, resulting in the toughest loss in both Prewitt and Dixon’s careers. It’s a game that they have not forgotten.
“Those kind of moments are tough on you, but they make you want to work harder and get back to where you were before,” Prewitt says.
Having that knowledge makes all the difference. “This time, you’ve been in that position and now you know what it takes to get over the hump. We have had our ups and down so far this year,” he says. “We’ve had a lot of injuries, a lot of sickness, but as a team we are coming together right now, and hopefully we have what it takes to win and end on a good note.”
For Dixon, it’s not about whether he wins or loses the game, it’s giving it all he’s got every time he is on the court.
“It’s just knowing that you have to pull your full effort into everything every day, and that’s all you can ever do. You have to live with the results,” Dixon says. “It’s definitely not easy to have to deal with a loss and have to go to class the next day. It’s just about having a short memory, looking forward to tomorrow and working harder.”
While the end of the season didn’t turn out as hoped, the duo was recognized at the CAA Tournament as two of the best players in the league. Dixon was named to the All-CAA first team, while Prewitt earned a spot on the second team.
Both players agree that they will graduate from William & Mary this year not only with a degree, but with a new group of brothers.
“The basketball is great, its awesome, but just knowing that I’m going to have my teammates by my side every single day is so important,” says Prewitt. “If I’m ever having a tough time, I can contact one of them.”
What are Prewitt’s and Dixon’s plans for after college? More basketball. “Post-college, I think we are both planning on playing a little more,” Prewitt says. “Hold off from the real world for a little bit longer. Wherever that takes us, overseas or here, I think we are both seeking to do that for a bit after college.”