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Dickson deserves her due

It’s about time.

Jessica Dickson has been lighting up opponents and scoreboards for the past three years with little recognition. She has carried the women’s basketball program to two WNIT berths and one NCAA Tournament berth.

And no one outside the USF campus knew anything about her before the Bulls made the move to the Big East last season. Dickson proved herself in 2005 against competition such as North Carolina and Rutgers to be a top talent in college basketball.

Dickson led college basketball in scoring for most of the 2005 season, yet Tennessee’s Candace Parker and North Carolina’s Ivory Latta got all the press. Dickson’s name and face would be all over television and the Internet if she was wearing a Connecticut or Louisiana State jersey.

But she’s not. She has USF across her jersey and deserves to be put in the same conversation as the likes of Parker or Latta for National Player of the Year.

“We’ve been dealing with (the lack of recognition),” coach Jose Fernandez said. “Me and Jessica have talked about it, and performance is what counts. She’s going to have a great year in the conference.”

Dickson shouldn’t have to deal with a lack of recognition, and her performance in the past is enough to merit some discussion as the best player in the nation. Against non-conference opponents North Carolina and Michigan State, Dickson scored 18 and 25 points, respectively, and brought in 37 against Rutgers, the Big East regular-season champion.

After a season that trumped the likes of Parker and Latta, all Dickson had to show for it was an honorable mention All-American selection. It’s just unacceptable for talent such as Dickson to garner little or no recognition simply because she doesn’t play for a powerhouse program.

“People really don’t know about what the USF program is all about because we just made our first trip to the NCAA Tournament,” Fernandez said. “Hopefully, we have the type of year we expect and the program will get some national attention.”

That’s about to change.

Not only is Dickson a year better, Fernandez has done a good job of surrounding her with more talent on the court. With shooters Daiane Packer and Shantia Grace, along with Porche Grant and Rachael Sheats, USF will make some noise in the Big East this season.

Dickson has received some preseason press in the Big East and has been added to the Wooden and Wade Trophy watch list, but this is still just a small blip on the national media radar.

Dickson, however, doesn’t have a problem with not being in the spotlight.

“I think being under the radar is fine with me and makes people ask ‘Where did she come from?'” Dickson said. “It would be nice to be on the cover of a magazine at Tennessee, but I like being under the radar.”

Tristen Webb, who has had a front-row seat to watch Dickson, feels that Dickson’s talent will shine through the lack of attention.

“She probably would get more attention playing at a bigger school,” Webb said. “But she’s a great player, and we like being the underdogs anyway.”

Another season in the Big East should bring a little more exposure to Dickson and the program. Fernandez understands the lack of exposure and that’s why he has scheduled non-conference opponents ranked in the Top 25 poll.

“She getting great exposure with being named Preseason Big East Player of the Year,” Fernandez said. “I think playing those types of team will not only help our program, but our University, and get more exposure for Dickson.”

Dickson and the Bulls will find their way into the women’s Top 25 poll, and it won’t be a surprise – except maybe to a national media that has ignored the star of an up-and-coming program.