Dickerson brings true veteran presence to WKU

Senior guard Caden Dickerson dives for a lose ball against Arkansas State senior guard Ed Townsel and sophomore forward Kelvin Downs during the second half of the Tops 82-77 double overtime win.

Lucas Aulbach

One constant in the turbulent past four years of WKU basketball has been Caden Dickerson.

Whether on the court or on the sideline, Dickerson, the redshirt senior guard set to play his final game at Diddle Arena Thursday night, has been around the program longer than any other current player and many assistant coaches.

Current coach Ray Harper came to WKU as an assistant coach in 2009, the same year Dickerson first put on the red and white jersey as a freshman.

Harper has seen the guard grow up to be a consistent contributor on back-to-back NCAA Tournament teams, and the coach said filling the veteran’s shoes next year will be hard to do.

I pretty much know what I’m going to get (out of Dickerson) every night,” Harper said. “He’s going to be solid defensively, he’s usually not going to turn the basketball over and he’ll make open shots.”

Dickerson isn’t the focal point of the Topper offense. His numbers — 4.6 points and 2.6 rebounds per game in 24.4 minutes — don’t jump off the page when you read them.

But Harper said Dickerson, who has started in 23 games this year, brings other factors like strong defense and a winning attitude every time he’s on the court.

“He’s everything you would want your son or one of your players to be,” the coach said. “He’s not the most gifted — he’s not. He doesn’t run the fastest, he doesn’t jump the highest. But if you want to win, you want guys like him on your side.”

Senior guard Brandon Harris knows what Dickerson brings to the table. The two have played next to each other in the WKU backcourt for two years.

Harris said he’s learned Dickerson brings lockdown defense to the court every time his number is called.

“He’s done everything coach has ever asked him to do, if that’s coming off the bench making shots or playing defense,” Harris said. “That’s why he plays as much as he does — the guy plays great defense. We see it all the time in practice.”

Dickerson’s production has been plagued over the years by injuries. After starting in 27 games in his sophomore year, Dickerson was sidelined for all but four of his junior season, 2011-12, with a shoulder injury.

He was able to obtain a medical redshirt for that season, but he also missed 12 games last season with a separated right shoulder.

Harper said shoulder injuries can hamper a guard like Dickerson’s scoring ability, but he has done a good job learning to play through the pain.

“It’s unfortunate that he had some of the injuries that he had — he had them to his shoulder — because that makes it difficult for a shooter,” Harper said. “He’s adjusted, but the thing he is he’s ‘Old Reliable.’ That’s what I call him. You know what you’re going to get every night.”