Central Missouri men’s basketball coach Doug Karleskint and Rakeem Dickerson traveled to Warrensburg together.
Closing on his house in Arkansas, Karleskint picked up Dickerson, his first recruit after accepting the job at the University of Central Missouri from Arkansas Tech, in Little Rock.
Together, they rode nearly six hours to Warrensburg in a car packed with coach's belongings.
“For him, I can only imagine what was going through his mind, because he barely fit in the care himself,” Karleskint said in a phone call Tuesday. “He had never gone through that stretch of road by the Ozarks, Branson. … That was a ride that I’ll never forget.”
Karleskint was reminded of that road trip upon hearing word that Dickerson, 28, died Sunday due to reported complications from a blood clot.
“It was absolute shock, sadness, disbelief all in one,” Karleskint said. “He’s always been a former player that I held in high regard. As a coach, he’s everything you want in a player because of how competitive he was. … He was one of those kids that everybody really enjoyed being around.”
Dickerson transferred to Central Missouri after three seasons at Arkansas State. Following a campaign in which the Mules won the Division II National Championship, Dickerson led the team with 12 points and four assists per game. He debuted for the Mules against the likes of future professionals Justise Winslow, Jahlil Okafor and Tyus Jones in an exhibition at Duke.
“He was just trying to fit in with a team that was built for success,” Karleskint said. “Even though he led us in scoring, he was one of our most unselfish guys. … You can ask everyone on our team, they really loved having Rakeem around.”
Before joining the Mules for the 2014-15 campaign, Dickerson played for the D-I Red Wolves, leading the team in assists in 2012-13. In 2010, Dickerson helped Little Rock Hall capture the 6A State Championship and the Arkansas Wings claim the AAU National Championship.
After graduation, Karleskint said he kept in regular contact with Dickerson.
“He was always contacting me about players who would be a good fit for UCM," Karleskint said. "Just a great ambassador for UCM. He loved his time here. He was always following up. … Really a guy that was a great, great person that the world lost way too young.”
Dickerson’s family organized an online fundraiser to help pay for medical and funeral expenses that can be viewed at https://gf.me/u/ycquuz
Alex Agueros can be reached at email@example.com or on Twitter @abagueros2.