Dickson already making mark on season

Senior Jessica Dickson is poised to become the most prolific scorer in USF basketball history.

Unlike any other Bulls basketball player, Dickson has been nationally recognized for her talent.

After finishing last season as third-leading scorer in the country with 22 points per game, behind Seimone Augustus (Louisiana State) and Sophia Young (Baylor), Dickson has become one of the top-billed players in women’s college basketball.

Before the season began, Dickson was voted the Big East Preseason Player of the Year, selected as the top wing player by ESPN.com and was named to the Preseason All-American Second Team.

Entering the season as the women’s basketball team’s third all-time leading scorer, Dickson netted 29 points in 26 minutes and has already moved past Angie Snyder into second place on the scoring list.

With 1,784 career points, Dickson needs to score 37 more to surpass Wanda Guyton’s record.

“When we were playing, I didn’t give any thought (about second place on the scoring list),” Dickson said. “I’m just glad I have an opportunity to break (Guyton’s) record at home; that would really be special to me.”

USF hosts Texas Southern on Saturday, and Sunday the Bulls play Georgia Southern at the Image Depot Shootout.

Not only is Dickson on the verge of shattering the all-time women’s record for points scored in a career, she trails Charlie Bradley by 535 for most points in USF history.

Dickson led the Big East with 682 points a year ago, so Bradley’s record is within reach.

“I looked up Charlie Bradley’s record, and breaking that one would definitely be great,” Dickson said. “To leave here with the all-time scoring record like I did in high school would mean a lot.”

Last season the Bulls played their toughest schedule, facing eight nationally ranked teams out of 31 games played.

Quality opponents allowed Dickson to compete against some of the greatest players in the country, including Augustus (41) and Cappie Pondexter of Rutgers.

Even though the Bulls lost both games, Dickson matched points with Augustus (11) and scored 37 to Pondexter’s 40.

Augustus and Pondexter went No. 1 and No. 2, respectively, in the WNBA Draft over the summer.

“Those games were fun, especially the Rutgers game. I was amazed by both of us,” Dickson said. “It was like being at the park playing one-on-one. Both of them are amazing, and it was so much fun playing against them.”

This season’s schedule includes games against six teams beginning the season ranked in the Top 25.

“I think playing those types of teams is definitely going to help Jessica get more exposure,” coach Jose Fernandez said. “She’s going to have a great year and (will) play in (the WNBA).”

Each season, Dickson has tried to add something different to her scoring arsenal, and her final year as a Bull is no different.

“I would say she’s really improved her three-point shooting,” senior guard Tristen Webb said. “In practice you can really tell she has more range and also is really passing the ball well.”

Dickson finished the year second on the team in three-point shooting (.347) and went 1-3 from long range in USF’s season-opening 85-59 victory over Wisconsin-Milwaukee.

Her offensive presence was felt immediately during the game, as she scored the Bulls’ first 13 points.

“One thing we want to do is try and run plays for her early,” Fernandez said. “The first four or five possessions we’re going to go at her and get her some touches early.”

According to Dickson, awards and praise are nice, but falling to Southern California 67-65 in the opening round of the NCAA Tournament has only driven her toward thinking about postseason success.

“As long as the team is winning games, that’s all that matters to me,” Dickson said. “Scoring points is my contribution.”Fernandez agrees.

“We have three banners (in the Sun Dome), all because of Jessica,” Fernandez said, referring to the NCAA Tournament and two WNIT Tournament appearances. “We definitely are looking to put some more up.”