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Is New UK Basketball Assistant Jai Lucas Up For The Task


Being named recruiting coordinator at a school that seems to always have the nation’s No. 1 or No. 2 recruiting class can present quite a dilemma.

That’s what Jai Lucas faces now that he is the new recruiting coordinator/special assistant for coach John Calipari at Kentucky.

“For me it’s just a way to help streamline everything with the staff. I understand by being an assistant coach before how hard it is to recruit, take care of the players on campus, get ready for games, scouting reports and stuff like that, so at least my job as I see it just how to streamline everything,” Lucas, an assistant coach at Texas the last three years, said. 

“So if it’s schedules or how we need to communicate with recruits, what games we need to go see, who Coach needs to be talking to, just kind of managing all that for the staff so I can take a little bit off their plates so they can focus on the guys.”

Lucas also knows there is no magic wand to wave to make recruiting easier.

“Your recruiting is only going to be as good as your team is,” he said Wednesday during a Zoom media conference.  “If you win the SEC championship and you’re playing for Final Fours, recruiting is going to be going pretty good. 

“They had the No. 1 recruiting class in the country last year, so I’m not trying to come in here and reinvent the wheel or anything like that. But if I can come in here and help streamline stuff and go more efficient and hopefully enhance some stuff over time as I get my feet under me, I think it will go pretty good.”

Lucas said there is not “anything you really have to dispel” about the UK program when it comes to recruiting as the results show John Calipari and his staff know what they are doing.

“But I think the biggest thing is you have a shift. I think the big shift is just finding ways to use and continue to use social media. I think that’s the biggest presence right now,” Lucas said. “I think other schools who Kentucky usually competes against have done a good job as well, so I think figuring out how we can use that in a better way and enhance that.”

Lucas, who was ready to commit to UK as a player before coach Tubby Smith left for Minnesota, knows recruiting is likely to change dramatically if players are able to transfer and play immediately one time as most expect starting with the 2021-22 season.

“I think a lot of recruiting is going to change here in the next couple of years with some of the rules and stuff passing with the NCAA, so it will be a whole different landscape probably this time next year,” he said.

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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