STILLWATER – An intriguing name has surfaced for the vacant assistant coach’s job on Travis Ford’s staff at Oklahoma State.
A familiar name, too: James Dickey.
The former Cowboys assistant and recent Houston head coach has been in discussion with Ford about the opening created when Steve Middleton was not retained, sources close to the program have told The Oklahoman.
While no deal is done, and there’s work to be done on both sides, the sources indicate that Dickey is the No. 1 candidate to replace Middleton.
Dickey served as a valuable assistant at OSU from 2002-08, joining his mentor Eddie Sutton after a 10-year run as the head coach at Texas Tech.
The 60-year-old Dickey resigned abruptly as head coach at Houston on March 24, citing “a personal family matter that requires my time and energy.”
In a statement released by the University of Houston, Dickey said: “This has been a difficult decision to make,” Dickey said in a statement released by the school. “I continually preach to my players about being an everyday guy, and the balance of your personal and professional life is a major part of it.
“With that being said, I have a family matter that requires my time and energy.”
Dickey went 64-62 in four seasons at Houston, with a 20-13 mark in 2012-13 his best season. The Cougars finished 17-16 this year, which included a 3-4 mark against Top 25 teams – their most wins over Top 25 competition in 30 years.
Including his time at Texas Tech, Dickey owns a 217-196 overall record as a head coach.
At Oklahoma State, Dickey played a part in producing some of Sutton’s most successful teams, including the 2004 Final Four team that went 31-4 and won both the Big 12 regular season and tournament titles.
Dickey would add a veteran and more experienced voice to Ford’s staff. A return to Stillwater would also put him closer to son Jared, who will be enrolling at OSU in the fall.
Dickey told the Houston Chronicle that he considered a leave of absence from the Cougars, before deciding that wouldn’t be fair to the program.
“Coach Dickey is not only a great person and coach, but a great mentor for all of our student-athletes and entire staff,” Houston athletic director Mack Rhoades said at the time. “He made so many of us in our department better. No one has worked harder than coach Dickey. … He will be missed greatly.”
In addition to Dickey, OSU has been linked as a potential landing spot for transfers TaShawn Thomas and Danuel House, Houston’s top two scorers and rebounders from this past season. Both players were granted conditional releases following the hiring of Kelvin Sampson by Houston.
Thomas, a 6-foot-8, 240-pound power forward, led the Cougars with 15.4 points and 8.1 rebounds a game and ranked No. 14 nationally with a 59.1 field goal percentage. House, a 6-7 guard, averaged 13.6 points and 5.3 rebounds. He was the Conference USA Freshman of the Year in 2013, after arriving as the No. 15-rated prospect nationally by Rivals.com and ESPN.com.
“I tried to create a bond with coach Dickey,” House told the Houston Chronicle. “Me and coach Dickey were the only ones who were really close. When he resigned, I didn’t have a relationship with anyone here.”
Both players would have to sit out a season under NCAA transfer rules, unless they receive a waiver. The conditional releases prevent them from transferring to another school in the American Athletic Conference, schools in the state of Texas, and scheduled opponents over the next two seasons.
Thomas will be a senior, and House a junior. Each has a redshirt year remaining.