MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — James Dickey has a lengthy basketball résumé. The 69-year-old has been coaching basketball since 1976, when he landed his first assistant coach position fresh off a four-year playing career at Central Arkansas.
Dickey last sat on a bench in 2016, when he was an assistant at Oklahoma State. Two years before that was the last time he was a head coach, as he guided the 2013-14 Houston Cougars to a 17-16 overall record.
Dickey was hired by West Virginia and interim head coach Josh Eilert to be a Senior Advisor in late July. Just over two months have gone by since that day, and he has become a key piece of this new WVU men’s basketball coaching staff.
“He’s been awesome,” Eilert said earlier this week. “I like to consider him the ultimate glue guy.”
Eilert and Dickey were in communication with one another before Dickey was hired by the Mountaineers. WVU’s interim head coach noted he had “already had numerous conversations” with Dickey when the move was announced.
The Arkansas native has more than 30 years of coaching experience at the Division I level, has been a head coach twice, and was part of Kentucky’s 1986 Elite Eight squad headed up by Eddie Sutton.
By comparison, Eilert has the most experience of any coach on West Virginia’s staff. He is entering his first year as an interim head coach, and the other four coaches only have a small handful of years worth of combined coaching experience.
“He’s that role guy that has zero ego, that can provide a lot of wisdom,” said Eilert. “Having him being able to mentor each and every one of us, he has a lot of wisdom to share and has zero ego about it. He just wants to help in any way possible, and he’s just been a breath of fresh air for everybody in the organization.”
Dickey’s coaching highlight came with Texas Tech in the 1995-96 season. He guided the Red Raiders to a school-record 30 wins and an undefeated mark in conference play. Dickey and TTU advanced to the Sweet 16 that year for the first time in school history.
Twenty-seven years later, Dickey is no longer the one calling the shots. However, that doesn’t mean he won’t be involved on gameday.
Eilert stated Dickey will be on the bench, and be involved in West Virginia’s game strategy this season. Scouting responsibilities belong to Eilert’s four main assistants, DerMarr Johnson, Da’Sean Butler, Alex Ruoff, and Jordan McCabe.
Dickey will provide guidance and input when needed, something he has already done in his short time with the program.
“He’s on the floor and he sees things differently and is always taking notes,” Eilert said, “whether it be for myself, or whether it be for our assistant coaches and how they operate.”