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The Mt. Hood CC standout signs to play next season at Division II Minnesota-Crookston

PMG PHOTO: DAVID BALL - Leonard Dixon led the Northwest in 3-point makes with 112 this past season.

Mt. Hood Community College sophomore Leonard Dixon, out of Barlow High, has signed a letter of intent to continue his college basketball career at NCAA Division II Minnesota-Crookston.

"Leonard is 6-foot-7 and he's a shooter. That was attractive to a lot of coaches because he can play multiple positions. You can shift him around and create mismatches," Mt. Hood CC coach Nate Bowie said.

Dixon drew attention from a mix of schools from Central Washington to Simon Fraser to Metropolitan State. Minnesota-Crookston coach Dan Weisse presented a full-ride offer back in January, and Dixon signed his letter of intent earlier this month.

Dixon was Mt. Hood's leading scorer this past season at 19.3 points per game. He led the Northwest with 112 makes from 3-point range and was in the top-10 for total field goals made.

"He was always in the gym. He knew his shots weren't going to come easy, especially once we got into league play," Bowie said. "We had him coming off screens to keep the defense guessing, but a lot of it came down to Leonard just playing hard."

PMG PHOTO: DAVID BALL - Dixon put up a season-high 39 points in a January game at Chemeketa.

Dixon showed his coach that he was ready for a big season when he put up 33 points in the season opener.

"He came out and hit seven 3-pointers and had a windmill dunk — that's when I knew he was on track for a great year," Bowie said.

He would knock down nine 3s on his way to a season-high 39 a couple months later in a road game at Chemeketa.

In his five seasons as a junior college coach, Bowie has helped more than 25 players land roster spots at four-year schools.

"If someone is wanting to go to that next level, we make sure to get them there," he said.

The Saints return the bulk of last season's roster with Dixon being the only starter not coming back.

"You mature a little with a season under your belt, and we'll continue to get better," Bowie said. "We were a team of mostly freshmen last year and we were battling. Making the postseason is definitely the goal for next year."

The Saints were 1-5 in league games decided by a single bucket. Reversing those results in close games would have landed Mt. Hood in the playoffs this past season.

PMG PHOTO: DAVID BALL - Mt. Hood CC mens basketball coach Nate Bowie has placed more than 25 players into four-year programs during his five seasons as a junior college coach.

Bowie is spending the off-season searching out recruits and also working as a private trainer with professional and Division I clients. Those sessions have looked different over the last month with restrictions in place to deal with the COVID-19 outbreak.

"Normally, I get five or six in their at the same time, and I'm very hands on," Bowie said. "But with social distancing, I may train one or two people if I'm even able to do that. Instead of showing someone how to do a drill and having them work it on me, now I'm talking them through it. I'm more of a rebounder, standing under the hoop and sending the ball back."

This story is scheduled for our Friday, April 3, print edition.

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