Josh Pastner is gambling again -- this time on transfer Michael Dixon

Michael Dixon averaged 13.5 points and 3.3 assists his junior year with Missouri. (USATSI)
Michael Dixon averaged 13.5 points and 3.3 assists his junior year with Missouri. (USATSI)

Michael Dixon has never been charged with sexual assault. In fact, he has no criminal record at all. Not even a misdemeanor. And that's the first thing any of his defenders will tell you, and they'll tell you that over and over again, regardless of whether you ask.

But Dixon has been accused of sexual assault.


By two different women in two different years.

And I'd be lying if I told you that shouldn't be troubling on some level because it means two different women with no connection to each other have alleged Dixon raped them, and I just don't think that happens to completely innocent men too often. I mean, think about it. How many people do you know who have been falsely accused of rape twice?

The percentage of men who fall under that umbrella is obviously pretty small.

It's why Missouri effectively dismissed Dixon last year.

But he's still super talented -- a hard-nosed guard who can really, really defend. So there was always going to be some college coach somewhere willing to gamble on the former Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year, and that coach is Memphis' Josh Pastner, who hosted Dixon on campus Tuesday and accepted his commitment, a source told

Dixon will enroll in classes at Memphis on Thursday.

And so what to make of all this?

Truth be told, I likely wouldn't take Dixon because, again, he's been accused of sexual assault twice, and I just don't think that happens to completely innocent guys too often. Beyond that, Pastner already has three senior guards -- Joe Jackson, Chris Crawford and Geron Johnson -- who averaged double-digits in points this season, meaning it's not like there's a huge hole in the backcourt.

So is this a move I would've made?

Again, probably not.

But it's important to note Pastner is a 35-year-old coach entering his fifth season, and he's making $2.65 million per year -- that, by the way, is more than Hall of Famers Roy Williams and Jim Boeheim make -- despite the fact that he's still looking for his first Sweet 16. In other words, Pastner is being paid lots of money to win lots of games, and there's an immense amount of pressure on him to break through, so to speak, as he enters his first season in a tougher league, the American Athletic Conference.

So this is simply Pastner understanding what he's paid to do.

He's paid to win big.

And Dixon will make winning big at Memphis easier than it would've otherwise been next season (provided he receives a waiver from the NCAA to play immediately), which is why he'll be welcomed into the rotation with a firm benefit of the doubt. Speaking of the benefit of the doubt, Pastner probably deserves that, too, considering his players have had zero off-the-court incidents in his first four years, a remarkable feat given the police reports the Tigers stacked in the nine previous years under John Calipari. And it should be noted the other big gamble Pastner has made -- a roll-of-the-dice on Johnson, a player with an actual criminal background who was dismissed from multiple junior-college teams -- has turned out well and provided Pastner with enough equity to make a move like this.

So he's willing to make a move like this.

Consider it something of a risky insurance plan.

What if Jackson or Crawford turns an ankle in March? What if signees Kuran Iverson and/or Pookie Powell -- neither of whom have qualified academically -- aren't on the roster? These are the questions Pastner is almost certainly asking himself, and he's essentially decided he wants to stack his roster in a way where an unpredictable problem here or there won't greatly affect his opportunity to advance deep in the Field of 68 with a team that'll be ranked in the top 15 of the preseason Top 25 (and one).

Now it'll be up to Dixon to make sure Pastner doesn't look foolish.

Now it'll be up to Dixon to keep his past in his past.

CBS Sports Insider

Gary Parrish is an award-winning college basketball columnist and television analyst for CBS Sports who also hosts the highest-rated afternoon drive radio show in Memphis, where he lives with his wife... Full Bio

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