For the first time in a long and successful career, Jamie Dixon gets to go home to coach a game.
“I don’t even know what home is anymore,” he said with a smile.
Basketball has taken the TCU coach a long way from his hometown of North Hollywood, Calif., for a long time.
He left after high school to play at TCU. Then it was on to a brief professional career in Australia, then coaching in New Zealand, back to Los Angeles for a couple of years at a junior college, up to Santa Barbara where he earned a master’s degree in economics, then Hawaii and later Northern Arizona.
In 1999, he began an 18-year run at Pitt, first as an assistant then as head coach, that eventually led him to returning to Fort Worth as head coach of the Horned Frogs in 2016.
It’s as head coach of the 20th-ranked Frogs that he returns to the Los Angeles area on Friday for a game against Nevada at the Staples Center, a mere 19 miles from North Hollywood, where his parents still live in the same house. A sister, Julie, is an attorney for Los Angeles County.
There’s no place like home.
“We did play in the Bay area, in San Jose, in the NCAA tournament when I was at Pitt, but we never got to LA,” Dixon said. “We always seemed to be put in the West Regional, but it was Boise a couple of times. It was Salt Lake. We never got to LA.”
Dixon, born in Burbank and a high school star in Sherman Oaks, won 328 games as head coach at Pitt. At TCU, he has totaled 33 victories in little more than a season.
The No. 20 Frogs are one of four ranked teams playing in the Basketball Hall of Fame Classic tripleheader. No. 16 Arizona State and St. John’s play in the first game, followed by No. 25 USC and Oklahoma. TCU and No. 22 Nevada are scheduled to tip at midnight Central, televised on ESPNU.
The Frogs (9-0) drew one of only two non-Power 5 teams in the event, but Dixon said Nevada will be plenty tough. The Wolf Pack (8-1) took its first loss this week, falling in overtime at Texas Tech on Tuesday night.
“We wanted to play a single game, a neutral-site game, against the best team we could find, Power 5,” Dixon said. “You’ve got to have somebody else to play you. We were going to play a couple. Other teams pulled out. So we got the best team that no one else wants to play, and it’s Nevada. Generally, teams don’t want to play that mid-major that’s really good.”
No. 20 TCU vs. Nevada
Midnight Friday, ESPNU