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Duke Blue Devils hiring Kentucky Wildcats’ Jai Lucas as assistant basketball coach

Duke head coach Jon Scheyer is hiring Kentucky’s Jai Lucas as an assistant coach, sources told ESPN.

Lucas is the first basketball hire from outside the Duke family since Mike Krzyzewski hired Tim O’Toole as an assistant coach in 1995.

He is the third and final assistant for Scheyer’s first staff at Duke, joining Chris Carrawell and Amile Jefferson. Carrawell has been an assistant coach under Krzyzewski since 2018, while Jefferson was promoted from the director of player development position. Scheyer also hired Elon head coach Mike Schrage as the special assistant to the head coach.

Lucas, 33, is considered one of the best young assistant coaches in the country. The son of longtime NBA player and coach John Lucas, he played his college ball at Florida and Texas before a brief professional career. He then spent seven seasons under Rick Barnes and Shaka Smart at Texas before going to Kentucky as an assistant coach for the last two seasons.

“I’ve known the Lucas family for 25 years and followed Jai’s career both as a player and as a coach,” Kentucky coach John Calipari said when he hired Lucas in 2020. “As our fans know, Jai was recruited here as a player and knows a lot about this program. I have always been impressed by the work he has done and the relationships he’s created. Jai is another guy who everyone has respect for because of his work ethic and his players-first approach. He will be a great addition.”

A Houston native, Lucas is well-connected in the state of Texas. During his time at Kentucky, he helped land Texas natives Daimion Collins, Sahvir Wheeler and Cason Wallace. He was also the initial contact for five-star point guard TyTy Washington and helped with potential top-10 pick Shaedon Sharpe.

The hire was first reported by 247Sports.

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