Pressure Doesn't Fade Cat's Dickerson  

by Marc E. Dickmann

The heat is on the University of Arizona's Michael Dickerson this season. On a team that seeks to repeat as national champions, the Wildcats showcase NBA prospects Mike Bibby and Miles Simon. Yet many think the unsung Dickerson has the potential to be the best of the bunch.
Over the past three seasons, Dickerson has shown glimpses of dominating ability. During the Wildcats' improbable march to the national championship last season. Dickerson averaged over 18 points a game and torched five different opponents with games of 30 points or more. However, while Simon and Bibby grabbed the national spotlight during the Final Four, Dickerson remained in the shadows. With NBA scouts in the stands, this season could make or break him.

"I feel a lot of pressure to play well and play consistently and to do things the NBA scouts are looking for in a shooting guard," Dickerson admitted. "But the Lord says seek him first and put all your problems and worries on him and He"ll take care of you."

Such perspective has been foundational in Dickerson"s rise from pine-riding freshman to NBA prospect?a perspective that has evolved through the friendship and leadership of AIA"s Doug Gotcher."

"He's definitely an angel sent to me from Jesus," Dickerson said. "He's really helped me through a lot the last three years. It's been a struggle, but he's definitely made it a lot easier. I don't know where I'd be if Doug wouldn't have brought me to Jesus."

During Dickerson's frustrating freshman year, Gotcher learned from a friend that Dickerson had an interest in pursuing the spiritual dimension of his life. Gotcher then introduced himself to Dickerson after a Wildcat practice.
"We started meeting at the end of my freshman year,"
recalled Dickerson, a Seattle native. "I needed a change in my life. there was a lot of emptiness. My family had given me plenty of money, I had a girlfriend, I had everything else, but I was still empty. I figured Jesus was the only way. I was living by my own rules and living my own way. Then I learned that the things in the Bible could pertain to my life. At first it was hard to read. For me now the Bible is a manual, an instruction book for life in this world."
"We've been talking about keeping the big picture in mind," Gotcher said. "It's easy to get your eyes fixed on the world and basketball, and it's easy to lose focus of what"s really important. Revisiting that the eternal perspective is the most important thing."

Such perspective can be difficult to grasp, especially when the reality of riches and notoriety in the NBA lingers so seductively.
"It's a struggle," Gotcher said. "He knows he can be an athletic influencer. He has dreams of playing in the NBA and he knows what kind of work it takes to get there."
Much of that knowledge came from Seattle Supersonics point guard Gary Payton, with whom Dickerson worked out during the summer.
Yet Dickerson also knows the importance of work off the basketball court as well. After the Wildcats captured the national title, Dickerson had the opportunity to share his faith with thousands of people in local churches in the Tucson area.
?The thing that makes him stand out to me is that he has a very sensitive heart toward God,? Gotcher said. ?Even in the midst of not always making right decisions, he still understands the role God should play. His heart for God, I can?t ever questions that.?
reprinted by permission Athletes In Action