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Duked Again

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If there was one thing that Kentucky basketball fans did not need right now it is another loss to Duke.

Yet Kentucky and coach John Calipari took a significant hit from the Blue Devils today with numerous sources reporting that Jai Lucas is leaving John Calipari’s staff to become an assistant for new Duke head coach Jon Scheyer.

This move has been rumored for several weeks but it seemed like it might have died out when Lucas was recruiting for UK last week — and don’t forget he was the lead recruit for Daimion Collins, Shaedon Sharpe, Cason Wallace and Chris Livingston.

Lucas, 33, has been considered a rising star in the coaching ranks and was a huge get for Calipari when he left Texas to join Kentucky. Duke normally does not hire coaches without a connection to Duke but Scheyer is breaking that mold to add a coach like Lucas.

It’s a big PR blow to Kentucky for Lucas to leave the “gold standard” of college basketball and working for a Hall of Fame coach in Calipari to join the staff of a first-year head coach.

Duke has already been dominating Kentucky in recent head to head recruiting matchups and has five 2023 verbal commits — UK has one from Reed Sheppard.

It was a blow to UK when Kenny Payne left to join the New York Knicks and is now back as Louisville’s head coach. This is another blow and even though the hiring has not even been officially confirmed, there’s no way this was about only money because Kentucky certainly could have and would have matched any Duke financial offer.

Calipari certainly can add a big-name hire to his staff and probably will. But the bottom line will not change — a first-year Duke coach convinced Lucas to leave Calipari and Kentucky.

Larry Vaught
Larry Vaught is a seven-time winner of the Kentucky Sportswriter of the Year award and has covered University of Kentucky sports since 1975. Larry now has a syndicated UK sports column appearing in 34 newspapers across the state as well as, and Larry also joins Mark Buerger and Anthony White on WLAP Sunday Morning Sports each week in Lexington as well as appearing each Tuesday with Tom Leach on The Leach Report.

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