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Jamie Dixon has emerged as “top candidate” in UCLA search.

The Frogs’ head coach recently hired a former UCLA assistant.

TCU Basketball vs Nebraska | March 24, 2019 | Fort Worth, TX
TCU Basketball vs Nebraska | March 24, 2019 | Fort Worth, TX
Melissa Triebwasser

As TCU Basketball prepares to play in their second NIT semi final in the last three seasons, rumors continue to swirl about the future of their head coach. Jamie Dixon, in his third year leading his alma mater, has apparently emerged as a “top candidate” at UCLA to replace Steve Alford, who was let go mid season. The Bruins have apparently set their sights on Dixon and Cincinnati’s Mick Cronin as they look to fill their empty role - a job they hope to have locked down by next week.

According to Ben Bolch of the LA Times, UCLA officials have “zeroed in” on Dixon and Cronin after striking out with more heralded options over the last few days. Believed to be reaching for the stars - the Bruins met with, and offered, Kentucky coach John Calipari - UCLA has struggled to draw a highly regarded coach to Westwood. Once considered the Mecca of college hoops, the house that John Wooden built has fallen on hard times as the Bruins have run off back to back successful coaches in Alford and Ben Howland, who combined for 350 wins, 11 NCAA Tournament appearances, and six Sweet 16s across 15 combined seasons.

According to the LA Times, Texas coach Shaka Smart, who has received the dreaded vote of confidence with his team facing TCU Tuesday night with a spot in the NIT Finals on the line, St Mary’s coach Randy Bennett, and former Bruin Basketball star Earl Watson - who spent time at the helm of the Phoenix Suns - are also on the short list, should Dixon or Cronin fall through. Cronin could be a candidate at Virginia Tech, where Buzz Williams created an opening by leaving for Texas A&M.

Dixon was asked about the UCLA job when Alford was initially fired, saying “I’m just so happy about being here, thankful for the situation I have. The best AD, the best Chancellor, and the family is happy, so why would I be thinking about anything else?” The LA native did say that UCLA was the beginning of basketball for him, sharing memories of growing up watching games.

In addition to TCU being his alma mater and having unfinished business in Fort Worth, another key factor that could keep Dixon in purple is a reporter eight million dollar buyout. For a program as notoriously cheap as UCLA’s, that could be a mitigating factor. Another point of interest is Dixon’s recent hiring of former UCLA associate head coach Duane Broussard, who was on the bench until the conclusion of the Bruin’s season. Dixon also hails from the Howland coaching tree, which is either a plus or minus in the eyes of UCLA brass depending on who you ask.

For now, TCU Basketball has a game to play. And as long as that’s the case, Jamie Dixon will be their coach.