By ADAM ZAGORIA
Duke coach Jon Scheyer has lured away one of Kentucky’s rising young assistant coaches.
Jai Lucas, 33, is leaving Kentucky for Duke, sources confirmed. 247Sports.com first reported the news.
Lucas, a son of former NBA player and coach John Lucas, will replace Nolan Smith, who left Duke for Kenny Payne’s staff at Louisville.
“Yesterday, Jai informed me he was taking a promotion at another school,” Kentucky coach John Calipari wrote on Twitter. “I asked where and when he told me Duke, he expected me to be mad. I support what he thinks is best for his family. He’s been loyal, terrific on the road and great for our players, and I want what’s best for him, so I’m good with it.
“I am not surprised that there was interest in Jai because there is always interest in our staff. This year, all of our assistants have been approached about other opportunities. When you have a great staff, that’s what happens.”
At Kentucky, Lucas recruited Shaedon Sharpe, Daimion Collins and Cason Wallace.
“He’s super relatable,” Kentucky point guard Sahvir Wheeler said of Lucas last summer, per the Courier-Journal. “We can relate to him as a player, just a person, college student. Not just an athlete, college student. He knows all that we’ve been through.
“…He’s a super cool cat. Just being around Jai makes life easier. He’s always willing to joke and smile with you. He’s also willing to keep it straight. That’s something you’ve got to respect. I think that comes from his dad because his dad is super blunt, super straight forward.”
Under Scheyer, who was named the coach-in-waiting last June after Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski announced his retirement following the 2021-22 season, the Blue Devils have the No. 1 recruiting classes for both 2022 and 2023. They have 11 combined players committed for both classes.
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