Chad Hixon said the whole process of finding a college basketball program taught him one lesson - make your own way, you can't depend on others.
As a Berkmar senior in 2005, Hixon really wanted to play at the next level and thought he had a shot after leading his team with a 16.3 scoring average. But the college recruiters didn't come after him, and he didn't think he got much help from his Patriots coaches when it came to promoting him to college scouts.
With no basketball options, the 6-foot-3 guard went to West Georgia but just played his favorite sport at the intramural level. He missed it so much that he started contacting smaller colleges looking for an opportunity. He found it at Oxford College of Emory University.
"I just started looking for somewhere to play, but I wanted to play somewhere that also had strong academics," Hixon said. "This is the place I found. I figured I could come here, play basketball and go to school somewhere else after two years or go to school at Emory after two years and get a good education there."
Hixon's decision certainly helped Oxford's basketball program.
He just completed his career last week at the two-year college, averaging 23.6 points and 10.2 rebounds as a sophomore. He ranked fourth nationally in scoring for National Junior College Athletic Association Division III players, and 25th nationally in rebounding.
He did a little bit of everything for Oxford, playing three positions as the program suffered through a down season. But he did enough individually that four-year colleges are courting him with hopes that he'll play at their school for his final two seasons of eligibility.
"It was very frustrating my senior year of high school when I saw guys signing places who I was not only as good as them, I was better than them," Hixon said. "But it was a learning experience. It was good to come here and show people I could play."
The natural progression for most students at Oxford is to transfer to Emory, and Hixon, who has a 3.3 GPA and is considering a career in law, may choose that route. But he's also looking at other four-year basketball programs, a group that includes Morehouse, Georgia College and State University, Mercer and North Carolina A&T.
Anderson gets another A-10 award
Peachtree Ridge grad Kevin Anderson, a freshman point guard at Richmond, was named this week as the Atlantic Sun Rookie of the Week, his third time winning the award this season.
He had 11 points and eight assists the previous week in a win over Duquesne, following that up with eight points and four assists against St. Louis.
Anderson ranks sixth in the conference in minutes played (34.0), fourth in steals (1.7) and 10th in assist-turnover ratio (1.58).
Spartans shine at next level
Several former Greater Atlanta Christian girls basketball players are making impacts in college basketball.
The group includes D'Nay Daniels, a freshman starter at Central Florida who averages 9.8 points and 3.8 rebounds in 21.5 minutes.
Cree Nix, a freshman at David Lipscomb, averages 5.8 points and 3.9 points in 16.5 minutes off the bench.
Other GAC grads contributing as reserves include: Katie Agin (junior at Furman), Bria Smith (freshman at Mars Hill), Kiara Swanier (freshman at North Georgia) and Sally Carroll (sophomore at Berry).
Duluth's Norman, Eaves shine at conference meet
Wingate University swimmer Mason Norman had a dominant performance at the Bluegrass Mountain Conference Championships, while teammate and fellow Duluth grad Jeremy Eaves also had a nice showing.
Norman, a sophomore, won the 50 freestyle title in a conference-record time of 20.32 seconds, which also is the fastest time in NCAA Division II this season. He also won the 100 free in another conference-record time of 44.62 seconds.
Both times were automatic qualifying times for the NCAA Championships.
Eaves, a freshman, placed in all three of his individual events. He was third in the 1,650 free and eighth in both the 500 and 1,000 free races.
Norris racks up no-nos, conference honors
Brookwood grad Lisa Norris, a junior pitcher at North Carolina, was named the ACC Pitcher of the Week earlier this week, marking the second straight week she's won the award.
Norris got the latest award after throwing her first career no-hitter in a win over Stetson. She struck out 12 and had one walk in seven innings. In her second game last week, she pitched nine innings and gave up just four hits and no earned runs to 10th-ranked Florida.
She followed up winning the award with another no-hitter, blanking Stetson on Wednesday.
The right-hander currently holds a streak of 23 straight innings without allowing an earned run.
SEC's top player
Dacula grad Brittany Rogers, a junior outfielder at Alabama, was named the SEC Player of the Week on Monday.
Rogers, a second-team All-American last season, leads Alabama in batting average (.714), runs (19), hits (25), on-base percentage (.737) and stolen bases (16).
In six games last week, Rogers had 21 hits in 30 at-bats (.700 average), scored 17 runs and had six RBIs. She also was 12-for-12 on stolen bases.
TRACK AND FIELD
Hall second at Tyson Invitational
LSU freshman Brittany Hall, a Meadowcreek grad, placed second in the Olympic Development Division's 800-meter run at the Tyson Invitational last weekend.
Hall ran the 800 in an indoor personal-best time of 2:08.06, a provisional qualifying mark for the NCAA Championships. The time also was a top-10 career time for LSU runners.
Hall isn't the only former Meadowcreek athlete excelling in college track and cross country.
Roberto Rojas, a freshman at Chattahoochee Tech in Marietta, made the second team All-GJCAA cross country team after helping his team to a 19th-place finish at nationals.
His college and high school teammate, Efosa Iguagbonmwen, was 10th in the long jump at the Tiger Indoor Invitational at the University of the South.
Gwinnett Grads is a column that runs on Saturdays spotlighting the achievements of past Gwinnett standouts. Coaches and parents are urged to send suggestions via e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org or via fax to 770-339-8081.