COLUMBIA — Guard Michael Dixon Jr.'s departure from the Missouri men's basketball team Thursday puts the spotlight on a freshman — a 6-foot-7 freshman Tigers coach Frank Haith and his teammates trust.
Freshman guard Negus Webster-Chan will now get a chance to showcase some of his diverse basketball skills. Although he lacks Dixon's experience, Webster-Chan brings a handful of talents to the guard position.
Appalachian State at Missouri
WHEN: 2 p.m.
WHERE: Mizzou Arena
TV: KOMU/Channel 8
RADIO: KTGR/1580 AM
Webster-Chan averaged 30.5 minutes and 6.8 points since the start of the season, which saw Dixon suspended and sitting on the bench. Webster-Chan has played in all six games so far and started one when guard Keion Bell had pneumonia.
Dixon averaged 22.3 minutes and 10.3 points in 32 games last year.
Webster-Chan's size and point guard mentality gives him the versatility to play different positions. Webster-Chan can play the point, at shooting guard and small forward.
"If we need him to score, he can shoot it," Haith said about Webster-Chan at the start of the season. "But he's also a pass-first guy, and I like that about him. He's pretty cerebral for a freshman."
Webster-Chan attributes his on-court intelligence to innate ability and hard work. He watches video of the opposition with his team and then brings video back to his dorm to dissect and analyze some more.
"Growing up, I've always had people tell me that my basketball IQ was high," Webster-Chan said.
It takes him an extra look at the opponent for him to be ready for the game.
"I don't need to watch it over and over again," Webster-Chan said. "I can quickly pick it up."
Webster-Chan also has a talented body under his sharp basketball head. According to Haith, Webster-Chan wins a whole lot of the team's sprints.
The guard is also known by his teammates as a gym rat. He said he does not leave the gym until his goals are met, no matter how long it takes — a habit he picked up after he moved to the United States from Canada. Webster-Chan said the wide availability of gym access in the U.S. made him appreciate heading to the gym.
He said he thinks his work ethic is earning him the trust of his teammates, which is helping him get accustomed to his role.
"After seeing me work, my team has been trusting me a lot more," Webster-Chan said. "And that makes me really comfortable."