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Dixon to coach U-19 USA Basketball team

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Pitt men’s basketball coach Jamie Dixon may get an early start coaching one of his prized recruits.

Dixon was named head coach of the USA Basketball men’s Under-19 team for the FIBA World Championships in New Zealand, and one of his players could be McDonald’s All-American Dante Taylor.

Tryouts for the Under-19 team will be in mid-June in Colorado Springs, Colo. One of the invitees is Taylor, a 6-foot-9 power forward from Fort Washington, Md.

“I think I’m going to go,” said Taylor, who will be among 20 or so players auditioning for 12 roster spots.

Last year, players on the silver medal-winning Under-18 team included point guard Kemba Walker of Connecticut, North Carolina recruits Travis and David Wear and Villanova-bound Dom Cheek.

Dixon has input on the roster, but the selection committee has the final word, according to USA Basketball’s Craig Miller.

Dixon was initially set to serve as an assistant on Davidson coach Bob McKillop’s 19-under staff. But McKillop stepped down after Stephen Curry declared early for the NBA Draft, and Dixon, the 2009 Naismith Coach of the Year, was promoted.

“It happened kind of quick,” Dixon said. “It’s quite an honor.”

Matt Painter (Purdue) and Chris Lowery (Southern Illinois) will be Dixon’s assistants.

Team USA will face Iran on July 2, France on July 3 and Egypt on July 4. The finals are July 12.

The event will be a homecoming for Dixon, who played pro ball for two years in New Zealand and started his coaching career in the Southwestern Pacific. Dixon averaged more than 42 points per game in the New Zealand pro league in 1989.

“We did run-and-gun,” he said. “We scored a lot of points, and we gave up a lot of points.”

The next year, Dixon, 43, was hired at tiny Te Aute College, the start of a coaching career that now includes USA Basketball.

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