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Dickson’s domination

It wouldn’t be the first time Jessica Dickson has etched her name into a record book.

As the point total keeps piling up for the senior, Dickson is now just 24 points away from breaking Charlie Bradley’s career scoring record of 2,319 points at USF.

“To get (the scoring record) would definitely mean a lot to me,” Dickson said. “In high school, I was able to be the leading scorer, so it would be really special for me to leave here with that, too.”

While at Vanguard High School in Ocala, Dickson broke the all-time scoring record held by Annette Powell, her head coach, by more than 600.

This season, Dickson has continued to be the Bulls’ most potent scorer, leading the team with 20 points per game and ranking second in the Big East Conference in scoring average.

Although Dickson is an accomplished scorer, she has consciously made improvements in other aspects of her game from last season. She is averaging career highs in rebounding and assists.

“If I’m not having a great offensive night, I think it’s important I look for (my teammates),” Dickson said. “I think I’ve done a good job being an all-around player. It’s important for the team because I don’t have to go out and score 30 (points) every night.”

Her improvements haven’t gone unnoticed throughout the league.

“She’s to the point now where she makes impossible shots,” Connecticut coach Geno Auriemma said. “The other thing that has changed is she has become a great offensive rebounder.”

After helping USF earn its first-ever NCAA Tournament appearance, Dickson saw first hand what was necessary to compete with the best players in college basketball.

But no matter how well Dickson performs on the court, her family is happier about her receiving a degree in business administration after the season is complete.

“I think having her degree, owning scoring records in high school and college and possibly going into the WNBA are the best three things in the world for her,” said Kathy Mack, Dickson’s mother. Mack has attended every home game during Dickson’s career. “I am so proud of her.”

With her prolific scoring capabilities, Dickson will likely be among the top five players selected in the WNBA Draft in April.

Among her likely destinations are Phoenix, San Antonio, Chicago, Minnesota or New York, owners of the first five choices in the draft.

“I do think about what team I might be going to, where I’d want to stay,” Dickson said. “It’s been a dream of mine since I was eight.”

When the WNBA was formed, Dickson ran home and told her mother she could now play professionally. Ever since then, Dickson has relentlessly pursued her dream of doing so.

“She’s always focused on going to the WNBA as a career,” Mack said. “She was continually focused. This was her dream even when she was in middle school. Basketball has been her life.”

Auriemma, who has coached eight Olympians and 18 First Team All-Americans during his tenure with Connecticut, feels Dickson has made tremendous strides since his team first played against Dickson as a sophomore in 2004.

“She’s going to be a heck of a player. She’s one of the top five players in our league,” Auriemma said. “She’s come a long way, and I hope she plays well in the NCAA Tournament.”

With a record of 18-9, the Bulls are considered a bubble team for receiving a second consecutive tournament berth. While Dickson hopes to surpass Bradley’s record Saturday against No. 19 Marquette, she knows winning is more important.

“If I get it, then I get it,” Dickson said. “But right now I’m just trying to help the team play well in the Big East (Tournament) and try and get back to the (NCAA) Tournament.”