Paxson was a
godsend to Donoher. Over the past decade or so, coaching at Dayton has become
harder and harder. The Flyers get virtually no television exposure outside
their home city, and their budget can't begin to compare with those of the
Kentuckys and UCLAs. Donoher generally must make do with players whom the major
powers either have overlooked or deemed not good enough. "It was critical
that Jim come to Dayton," Donoher says. "He's carried our program for
The senior Paxson
has occasionally been critical of Donoher for failing to recruit the big man
needed to make Dayton a national power. "If we had a good center," says
the father, "it would make Jim a better player." However, few good big
men have been interested in Dayton; some of those who did come did not stay. So
Paxson has excelled in obscurity. During his career, Dayton has neither played
in the NCAAs nor appeared on national television. The Flyers may well do both
this year, which is important to Paxson's future because tournaments and
television mean a lot when it comes to recognition—and a pro contract.
Jim's brother John
is one of the country's better high school guards. In attempting to recruit
him, coaches like Notre Dame's Digger Phelps are stressing Dayton's inability
to provide Jim with national recognition. Last winter, as a junior, John led
Alter to the Ohio AAA championship. He is five inches shorter than Jim, but is
at least as sound in fundamentals. He has all but eliminated Dayton, and is
leaning toward Notre Dame, Duke or North Carolina.
"In our area,
Notre Dame and Marquette are the main independents, so they get all the
national TV," says Jim. "That's what Notre Dame is using on John. Their
subs are better known than I am. It will be John's decision, though. I think
he's always wanted to go away. I think it's much tougher to follow a brother
than a father."
Paxson says his
studies and social life are important to him, but basketball is his passion.
When he's not playing it, he thinks and talks about it. Last summer he ran and
lifted weights to build up his strength and stamina. He also worked as a
counselor at basketball camps in the East, testing his ability and honing his
skills against top players from around the country.
Even though his
personal statistics are excellent and Dayton is 5 and 2 after beating Cal
Poly-Pomona, Miami of Ohio and Baldwin-Wallace last week, this season has been
another frustrating one for Paxson. Dayton's new—and taller than usual—players
have been slow to adapt to his sharp passes and to Donoher's motion offense.
Paxson also has been nagged by a cold and a pulled Achilles. But he is still
hustling after the perfect game with as much diligence as ever. He won't get
it, of course, but he'd be willing to settle for a trip to the NCAAs and a
chance to play on national TV.