Former Maryland basketball star Juan Dixon says he received a telephone call over the summer from current Terps coach Mark Turgeon, who asked if it would be all right for incoming freshman Roddy Peters to wear No. 3.
Dixon said that he was caught "off guard" by Turgeon's request and initially agreed to let the former Suitland High star to wear the jersey number Dixon made famous in College Park by leading the Terps to two straight Final Fours and the school's first national championship in 2002.
Then, after talking with friends and family, Dixon had a change of heart. Turgeon then announced that Peters would wear No. 2.
"The more I thought about the more I talked about with my family and closest friends who were at my house at that particular time, I started having second thoughts and I called him back," Dixon said in an interview with the Baltimore Sun on Thursday. "I said 'Coach, that number is a lot bigger than Juan Dixon the individual. That number represents history. That represents the team, it represents so many more things. It's sentimental to the University of Maryland and to the fans.' That was my whole thought process in calling back and saying I had change of heart. I knew nothing about him wearing it or about him idolizing me or wearing for his mom and sisters."
Dixon said that former coach Gary Williams had an unwritten rule that no other player would wear No. 3. According to Dixon's wife, Robyn, both Greivis Vasquez and Pe'Shon Howard had inquired about wearing No. 3 when they got to Maryland. Vasquez wore 21 and Howard was also given 21 the year after Vasquez graduated.
"He's not the first one who wanted to wear No. 3," Dixon said of Peters. "It never should have gotten to the point where coaches are asking me. Coach Williams never let it get that far. This is not Juan Dixon's rule, this is what Coach Williams wanted. I understand that it's not his program anymore and Coach Turgeon is doing things a little differently."
Maryland has a policy of honoring jerseys, not retiring them. Johnny Rhodes wore the same No. 15 that John Lucas wore when he was an All-American and the first overall pick in the NBA draft. Adrian Bowie wore Keith Booth's No. 22, and Dez Wells is now wearing No. 32, the same number as former All-American and top overall NBA pick Joe Smith.
Asked if he thinks that his number should never be worn again, Dixon said, "I don't look at myself any differently than any other guy up in the rack [of jerseys hanging from the ceiling of Comcast Center]. But this has been the rule."
Dixon believes that one other number deserves the same treatment: the No. 34 worn by the late Len Bias.