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Celebrating 25 Years of the ACC Women’s Basketball Tournament – A Look Back

Jan. 23, 2002

25th Anniversary ACC Women’s Basketball Tournament PageClick here for a chance to win tickets!

by Debbie AntonelliACC Women’s Basketball Television Analyst

There is a level of class and distinction and then there is another level that includes people like Barbara Kennedy-Dixon. As the legendary Alabama Football Coach Bear Bryant used to say, “I can’t define class but I sure can recognize it when I see it.” Barbara Kennedy-Dixon in any role, mother, administrator, counselor or fan of the game is a terrific role-model representing Clemson University and the women’s basketball team.

Barbara Kennedy-Dixon is in her second year as an assistant athletic director in charge of women’s basketball at Clemson University.

Nineteen 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).

When asked her how she believes her records have stood the test of time in a league that has had a ton of talent over the years, she is quick to point to a couple of reasons in her humble way. “Every team in the ACC now has two or three scorers and much better players than we had during my time at Clemson. I am not saying my teammates weren’t good players because we did have talent and some great chemistry. My teammates were confident in giving me the ball and I was confident in my ability to score.”

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.

One of Kennedy-Dixon’s moments during the ACC tournament that she shares happened during a game against Maryland. “Back then, we moved the tournament around to different schools within the ACC and we played a hard fought game with Maryland. The game was close until the final three minutes and Maryland pulled away to win. That was my final chance my senior year to win an ACC Tournament for Coach Annie Tribble and we didn’t finish the job. It still is a difficult and disappointing memory because I wanted to give a tournament title to Coach Tribble and Clemson University.”

There is a bright side of the ACC Tournament for Kennedy-Dixon and it had to do with her role as an Academic Advisor in 1996 when Clemson defeated UNC for the title in Rock Hill, SC. “Just watching Coach Davis’ facial expressions and watching every player on their feet towards the end of the game is a memory that I will cherish forever from the ACC Tournament. It brought tears to my eyes to share in that ACC Tournament moment. That first ACC title for Clemson was something I had always hoped would happen.”

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).

Where was the defense? Who guarded this scoring machine and who was a tough defender back in her era? When posed the question about who were the toughest competitors she faced, without hesitation she spouted out two names. Kris Kirchner of Maryland and Bernadette McGlade of UNC are the toughest ACC players she faced in her All American career at Clemson. “Both were tough inside. I hated to go against Bernadette. She was mean and nasty (in a good way) on the blocks. She wore her hair in those long braids and those braids used to smack me in the face.”

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 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 Fame.

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.

Kennedy-Dixon and her husband, who was her high school sweetheart, are the proud parents of Jalen (7) and Jasmine (6).