After not being able to get Jamie Dixon, who’s next on UCLA’s list of candidates to be their men’s basketball coach?
This past week, Jamie Dixon seemed headed for UCLA to permanently replace Steve Alford. But negotiations hit a snag on Friday, as the Los Angeles Times reported the school was not willing to pay Dixon’s $8 million buyout and TCU was not willing to drop the price.
A Los Angeles area native and a disciple of former Bruins’ coach Ben Howland, Dixon was easy to point to as a candidate for UCLA when Alford was fired on New Year’s Eve. He just completed his third season at TCU, as the Horned Frogs went 23-14 and made to an NIT Semifinal. Dixon has a 68-41 record with one NCAA Tournament berth thus far in his tenure at his alma mater.
Now that they’ve struck out on Dixon, after failing to get John Calipari to take a pay cut and leave Kentucky, who’s next on UCLA’s list of coaching targets?
Cincinnati coach Mick Cronin joined Dixon as a leading candidate for the Bruins, with St. Mary’s coach Randy Bennett and Texas coach Shaka Smart also rumored as potential targets. Nevada coach Eric Musselman lingers on the periphery, if he wants to make a jump to a bigger job as an experienced Wolfpack roster gets younger looking toward next season. UCLA alum and former Phoenix Suns head coach Earl Watson has also reportedly interviewed for the job.
Luke Walton, assuming he’s let go by the Los Angeles Lakers, may become a more serious candidate for UCLA. Then it becomes harder to hone in on specific candidates, but one potential dark horse is San Diego State coach Brian Dutcher.
Dutcher worked for many years as an assistant under Steve Fisher at Michigan and San Diego State, and he just finished his second season as Aztecs’ head coach. He has a reputation as a stout recruiter, dating back to Michigan’s “Fab Five” and getting some kid named Kawhi Leonard to come to San Diego State.
The big question would be Dutcher’s willingness to entertain leaving San Diego State, where he remained as “head coach in-waiting” before replacing Fisher. Also, it’s worth wondering if he (or any other top candidate, truly) sees UCLA as a big step up.