Sept. 12, 2000
By Sam Blackman Assoc. Sports Information Dir.The Missouri Game Program – September 9, 2000
It’s only fitting that Barbara Kennedy-Dixon will be the first women’s basketball player inducted into the ring of honor. She has set a standard for all Lady Tigers on an off the court that gives all future Lady Tigers a model of excellence, one that will be difficult to attain.
And to think she didn’t even come to Clemson on a basketball scholarship!
Eighteen years after she played her last game for the Lady Tigers she still holds the school’s and the Atlantic Coast Conference’s career record for most points scored (3,113) and most rebounds (1,252)-records that will probably never be broken.
She was a two-time All-American in 1981 and 1982 and three-time first-team All-ACC player in 1980, 1981 and 1982. She is the only two-time All-American and three-time first-team All-ACC selection in Clemson history.
At the ACC Tournament, she was named MVP in 1981 and 1982. She is the only player to earn this award and not be on the championship team. Kennedy-Dixon is still the NCAA record holder for most field goals in a season with 392 in 1981-82. Her 908-point season of 1981-82 is still tied for sixth best in NCAA history and her 29.3 scoring average that same year is still 12th best in NCAA history.
Kennedy-Dixon is the ACC and Clemson’s all-time career leader for most field goals (1,349) and field goal attempts (2,688). She also holds ACC and Clemson single season records for most points (908), points per game (29.3), most field goals (392), field goals attempts (760), rebounds (400) and most rebounds per game (12.9).
The native of Rome, GA led the nation in scoring in 1981-82 with an average of 29.2 points per game. For her career, she accumulated ninety-three 20-point games, twenty-eight 30-point games, and six 40-point games. Kennedy-Dixon also holds the distinction of having scored the first points in the inaugural NCAA Tournament.
Currently, Kennedy-Dixon is now an assistant athletic director in charge of women’s basketball operations at Clemson University. She is in the Clemson and the state of South Carolina’s Athletic Hall of Fames.
Kennedy-Dixon had a modest beginning in basketball and believe it or not she was not heavily recruited. In fact, she didn’t even come to Clemson on a basketball scholarship. The story really is similar to another Clemson Ring of Honor inductee, Fred Cone. Cone got a scholarship to Frank Howard’s football program sight unseen. Howard’s sister recommended Cone to Howard because she had seen him dive off a diving board into a neighbor’s pool and he looked athletic doing it. Here is how Kennedy-Dixon came to Clemson.
“In the sixth grade I tried out for cheerleading, a squad that was going to cheer for the junior varsity basketball team. From that point on I feel in love with the game of basketball. The guys made it interesting.
“After cheering that one season, I decided to try out for the girls junior varsity team and I made it my first year. I really did not know what to do and I made a lot of mistakes that first year. I also played pickup basketball games with other guys and this is what helped improve my game.
“Playing basketball in college was a goal for me, but it was a goal I did not think I could reach. I did not know how that process worked. I did not know if I wanted to leave home or not. As I finished my junior year and received some praise from opposing coaches, I got interested. Different coaches would tell me to concentrate on the books and well as my game.
“My senior year I started realizing there may be an opportunity. I started concentrating on my studies and working on my basketball skills. I thought I made some progress as I started getting some contacts from college coaches. My first contact was from Coach Annie Tribble (Head Women’s Basketball Coach at Clemson 1976-87) and that told me there was a chance for me to compete at the next level.
“I remember my first phone call from Coach Tribble and how pleasant she was, how complimentary she was and how encouraging she was. She continued to show interest. She was very much like my Mom in that she had a caring and loving personality. She conveyed that on the telephone.
“I remember when she came for a visit at one of our games. I tried so hard – maybe too hard. It was a disaster and she started backing off at one point. I was trying to prove to her that I could play.
“I was waiting for her phone calls. She called me one day and told me she used all her scholarships. She also told me if I made the test scores and wanted to come she would bring me in on a volleyball scholarship. I took the SAT and made the required score. I told Coach Tribble I made the test scores and here I come! So I originally came to Clemson on a volleyball scholarship.”
Clemson is certainly glad she took that volleyball scholarship. She was named Clemson’s top athlete of the 1980s and has continued to serve Clemson with distinction as an assistant coach, as an administrator in Vickery Hall and in the Compliance Office, and now back with Lady Tiger basketball as an assistant athletic director.
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