Photo courtesy of Nick Ieradi

How Xander Dickson, the ‘Slim Reaper,’ claimed the 2023 All-Star Freestyle Competition win

By Lauren Merola

Jul 27, 2023

He’s skinny, one of the best shooters in the league, has become a regular on SportsCenter Top 10 and goes by “Slim Reaper.” And he’s not Kevin Durant.

Xander Dickson was dubbed “Slim Reaper” his sophomore season at Virginia, after a friend drew the comparison between the 6-foot-1, 160-pound Dickson and the lanky Durant, who is an investor in the Premier Lacrosse League. Dickson thought it was a one-time tweet, but his Virginia and Atlas teammate Dox Aitken and brothers Marshall and David “never let it die,” he said.

“They were always bringing it back up on Twitter or whenever they could,” Dickson said. “Once it got to the commentators, it just stuck.”

So when the Atlas midfielder was told he’d made the 2023 All-Star roster and would be competing in the Freestyle Competition, Dickson wanted to channel his slim counterpart. Dickson said his family and friends wanted him to dress up in a long flowing sheet and scythe to resemble the Grim Reaper, but Dickson wanted to do something less direct.

“Every waking minute [since I found out I was in the Freestyle Competition], I was trying to think of something,” Dickson said. “From Wednesday on, I was going to the field and trying new stuff, sending videos to my brothers, sister and friends and they would tweak them.”

Dickson had seen plenty of dunks in the Freestyle Competition in the past, so he wanted to build on it and add an alley-oop-type jump.

For his first shot of the competition on Saturday, Dickson took off from goal line extended but was stopped by Atlas faceoff specialist Trevor Baptiste – who calls Dickson “Slim” – and handed him a Durant jersey. Dickson dressed in it and proceeded to fly.

“It was a combo of wanting to do something more creative than just dressing up as the reaper and being a huge basketball fan,” Dickson said. “It worked out perfectly that Kevin Durant has the ‘Slim Reaper’ nickname and I already love watching the dunk contest every year, so we combined that.”

Dickson’s first goal earned a score of 29 out of 30. He advanced to the final round against Archers faceoff specialist Mike Sisselberger. But he had no tricks left up his sleeve.

After it became apparent that Dickson was headed to the final round, Whipsnakes long-stick midfielder Colin Squires cozied up to him and convinced Dickson to try the shot they briefly discussed beforehand. It doesn’t have a name and it has never been done at the All-Star competition before, but Dickson was out of options, so he agreed.

Dickson grabbed his friends, Whipsnakes midfielder Tucker Dordevic, Atlas defenseman Brett Makar, Chaos defenseman Will Bowen and Squires. Minutes later, the 30-second countdown for Dickson’s final shot started. The four players each grabbed a limb, picked Dickson up Superman-style and ran a lap around the crease before launching Dickson past the goal line. 

It was a Freestyle Competition-winning hurl.

The four players either underestimated their own strength or overestimated Dickson’s weight.

“They said they were going to throw me gently. I don't know how gentle they were,” Dickson joked. 

Underestimated and undersized often go hand-in-hand when describing Dickson. Like how Durant overcame the scrutiny of being too thin, Dickson plans to continue to do the same.

“The ‘Slim Reaper’ personifies that of not letting your size be a disadvantage,” Dickson said. “Play into it, lean into it, you can still be great.”

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