Recruits pleased with Dixon's extension

University of Pittsburgh Head Basketball Coach Jamie Dixon recently signed a contract extension. His new deal will keep him at the helm of the Panthers' basketball program through the 2012-13 season. The PantherDigest.com talks with 2006 recruits Gilbert Brown and Austin Wallace about Dixon's new deal.

"I feel really, really good about Coach Dixon given his extension," stated 6-foot-6 inch, 190 pound Gilbert Brown from South Kent Prep School in South Kent, CT. "My heart was always with Pitt. I would have come to Pitt with or without Coach Dixon, but having him in place makes me feel a lot better."

Dixon has led the Panthers to a 76-22 record in three years. The Panthers have made three consecutive appearances to the NCAA Tournament. Pitt's athletic director Jeff Long started negotiations with him shortly after the Panthers loss to Bradley in the second round of the NCAA Tournament. Dixon will be paid roughly $900,000 a year with his new contract.

"When you look at the players we have coming back, I think we have a championship caliber team. I don't just mean Big East championship; I think we have a chance to win a national championship."

Brown finished his career as South Kent Prep School's all-time scorer with 1,157 career points. Gilbert, a native of Harrisburg, PA, chose the Panthers over Maryland, West Virginia, Georgetown and Wake Forest. He is a versatile player capable of contributing at the "2" (shooting guard) or "3" (small forward).

"I'm really happy for Coach Dixon," stated 6-foot-9 inch, 230 pound center Austin Wallace from La Salle Academy in New York, NY. "Our program has been successful for years. I know we have a good team coming back next year, but you never know how a new coach would have changed things. You could have really ruined the chemistry that's there right now."

"As an incoming recruit, I would have worried about a new coach. Coach Dixon believes in my abilities and potential. You never know if the new coach would have felt the same."

Austin averaged 19.6 points, 17.3 rebounds and 3 blocked shots per game this season. He was recently selected to the Michael Jordan Regional All-Star game. Wallace is a member of the "City Team" and he will be grouped with Villanova recruits Malcolm Grant and Antonio Pena, St. John's recruits Rob Thomas and Justin Burrell and Providence recruit Brian McKenzie.

"I speak with Gilbert Brown all the time. When we talk, we talk about one thing: championships. With the team we have coming back at Pitt plus me, Gilbert and Mike Cook, I think we have a team that can take Pitt to the next level."

"You have all the pieces in place for a long run in the NCAA Tournament next year. I have played with Levance (Fields) and Ron (Ramon). Levance is a true floor general and nobody is a better shooter than Ron. You add Aaron Gray and our depth and the sky is the limit."

Harry G. Psaros can be contacted at harrypsaros@msn.com.


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