STILLWATER – With turbulence and unrest at an all-time high around Oklahoma State’s basketball program, Travis Ford struck for an element of calm and stability Wednesday.
Addressing the vacancy on his coaching staff, Ford announced the hiring of former Cowboys assistant James Dickey, once Eddie Sutton’s composed right-hand man.
“I’ve known Coach Dickey for 25 years going all the way back to when he recruited me at Kentucky,” Ford said in a release, “and I have always respected and been impressed by the kind of person and coach that he is.
“I’ve enjoyed renewing our relationship the last couple weeks. He brings incredible experience, knowledge and familiarity with this area and with OSU. I’m excited about him helping us reach the next level.”
Dickey offers a veteran voice familiar with that next level, having assisted Sutton during the best run of OSU basketball since Henry P. Iba ruled old Gallagher Hall.
From 2002-08, Dickey served under both Eddie and Sean Sutton. During that time, he was heavily involved in developing future NBA talent, including Tony Allen, Joey Graham, Stephen Graham, John Lucas and Ivan McFarlin. James Anderson, who is currently in the NBA with the Philadelphia 76ers, was recruited to OSU by Dickey.
Most recently, Dickey spent four seasons as head coach for the Houston Cougars. While at Houston, Dickey went 64-62 in four seasons, 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 – the program’s 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.
Now he returns to Stillwater, trying to help assist in restoring the program – again – much like he did with Sutton. The Cowboys are coming off a disappointing season and the roster is in a state of flux, with players coming and going.
“I’m excited and honored and want to thank Coach Ford for the opportunity to join his staff,” Dickey said in the release. “I have followed his playing and coaching career and have great respect for who he is and what he’s accomplished.
“I’m thrilled about returning to Oklahoma State and living in Stillwater. My family is here and this is a great place to live and work. Cowboy basketball is special and has a knowledgeable, passionate fan base and a very loyal, enthusiastic student body. It will be exciting to be back in historic Gallagher-Iba Arena.
“Coach Ford has a tremendous staff which I look forward to being a part of as we build on the great tradition of OSU basketball.”
Dickey’s coaching career spans 30 years and includes stops at Arkansas, Kentucky, Texas Tech and Houston, in addition to OSU.
As an assistant for Eddie Sutton at Arkansas and Kentucky, he coached many players who advanced to the NBA, including Winston Bennett, Rex Chapman, LeRon Ellis, Chris Mills, Joe Kleine, Alvin Robertson, Darrell Walker and Kenny Walker. The Razorbacks made four straight NCAA Tournament appearances with Dickey on the staff.
During a four-year span at Kentucky, the Wildcats made three NCAA Tournament appearances, including an Elite Eight in 1986. UK was ranked third in the final AP poll that season.
With Dickey comes speculation of OSU’s potential involvement with Houston transfers TaShawn Thomas and Danuel House, the Cougars’ 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.
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.