Duke hires Jai Lucas: Blue Devils swipe key Kentucky recruiter in splash move by Jon Scheyer

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Duke and first-year head coach Jon Scheyer scored an important recruiting win on Friday, landing assistant Jai Lucas by prying him away Kentucky, where he has spent the last two seasons on John Calipari’s staff.

Lucas’ move from Lexington to Durham gives the Blue Devils a key recruiter with prominent connections and a youthful presence on Scheyer’s now-complete staff comprised — with the exception of Lucas — of former Duke players. In the process, it leaves a chink in the shiny armor of Kentucky, a primary competitor on the recruiting trail on an annual basis.

After finishing his playing career at Texas, Lucas spent time as an assistant on Rick Barnes’ and Shaka Smart’s staff with the Longhorns. He was then hired by Calipari and Kentucky in August 2020 as a recruiting coordinator and quickly worked his way into an on-court role as one of the team’s assistants. His presence paid off for the Wildcats almost immediately, too, as he played key roles in bringing in Sahvir Wheeler — a former Texas native — who joined UK via Georgia last year, as well as incoming five-star recruit Cason Wallace.

This marks the second consecutive year Calipari and his staff have had to endure an offseason shakeup. Last year, Tony Barbee and Joel Justus left for other jobs and were replaced by Illinois assistants Orlando Antigua and Ron “Chin” Coleman. Both are under contract through the end of the 2023-24 season. 

Hiring Lucas is part of a season of change for Duke after legendary coach Mike Krzyzewski decided to hang it up and retire following the 2021-22 season. With the hire, Scheyer’s staff is officially complete, with Lucas sitting alongside former Duke stars Chris Carrawell and Amile Jefferson. Former Elon coach Mike Schrage is also on staff as Special Assistant to Scheyer.


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