During his freshman season at Division II Grand Valley State, Asauhn Dixon-Tatum was averaging just a four points and a four rebounds per game. A far cry from the production needed to play elite Division I basketball, and he knew his game required much work to reach that level.
Fast-forward to this past season at Chattahoochee Technical College, where Dixon-Tatum just wrapped a stellar season on his way to Auburn in the summer.
Determination and perseverance earned Dixon-Tatum second-team All-GCAA honors and he was named the league's Defensive Player of the Year.
Dixon-Tatum leads the NJCAA in blocked shots with 152, averaging 5.5 per game, and scored 11 points and grabbed 12 rebounds per contest. He ranks first in the league and fifth nationally in rebounds. That defensive presence and intimidation factor is why Auburn coach Tony Barbee signed him.
"I feel I've gotten ten times better than when I first started playing in Georgia," Dixon-Tatum said. "During the offseason I was working on my offensive moves, and I always kept my defense good."
Dixon-Tatum's individual block total is more than Auburn's team block total of 145 this season.
"I've always been really good at blocking shots, it comes relatively naturally for me," Dixon-Tatum said. "I have gotten better with my timing and my body being stronger and more physical, I'm able to go almost to the top of the square and block shots."
He leads his Chattahoochee Tech team, 19-11, into the GCAA Tournament on Tuesday attempting to keep their season, and his career, alive against Albany State at 6:30 pm CT. Winning the tournament would result in Chattahoochee Tech heading to the national junior college tournament in Kansas.
Out of high school Dixon-Tatum measured in at 6-foot-9, 190-pounds. Now he stands 6-foot-11 and 225-pounds, with the hopes of pushing 240-pounds by next fall.
He knows just how far he's come too.
His former high school coach Jeff Howard told him prior to his senior year at Highland, he likely wouldn't have started on the school's 'B' team. By his senior season, Dixon-Tatum was a starter and beginning to develop into the player he is now.
Defense was never a problem for Dixon-Tatum, but his offense has come a long way since his high school days.
"I improved the most on my offensive presence. Coming out of Grand Valley I was more of a defensive guy," Dixon-Tatum said.
With the help of an improved offensive game, and his reliable defensive skills, Dixon-Tatum recorded three triple-doubles this season at Chattahoochee Tech. The most blocks he recorded in a single game was 14 and he estimates that over 60 percent of his games this season were double-doubles.
"I never could imagine putting up these numbers in games," he said. "These are things that I hoped for and prayed about."
While Dixon-Tatum wraps up his junior college career, he is already looking ahead to Auburn. He's looking ahead to the competition and camaraderie, but more importantly for a player who has risen from the shadows of his high school bench to the SEC, he wants to win.
"I'm looking forward to winning it all," Dixon-Tatum said. "I don't want to sound full of myself, I'm not that way, but I'm ready to work and win it all. I want to win it all, I have to. We have to. I'm going to a place where I know they want to win as bad as I do. We are going to win it all."