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Lucas Hire More Impactful than You Might Realize

(photo credit UK Athletics)

Our Just the Cats intern Jordan Brown–who played the guard position and is a coach himself–gives you his latest take on Jai Lucas as a teacher and a mentor.

UK Basketball: Jai Lucas hired as new Assistant

By Jordan Brown

John Calipari and the Wildcats made another significant hire to fill the gap left by Kenny Payne.

Monday, the Cats brought on Jai Lucas to be an assistant for this upcoming season. Lucas, who is a product of a basketball-oriented family, will join the team after four years of being an assistant at the University of Texas.

Lucas played his high school career in Houston, Texas where he was born, and put together a solid collegiate career soon after. He has experienced playing against the kids as a Florida Gator in the 2007-2008 season. He transferred back home to play at his alma mater, the University of Texas, for the rest of his college career. As a former guard with a basketball background, I see Lucas being a great teacher and mentor to the young guards that Kentucky is accustomed to. 

His experience and basketball knowledge passed down through his family shows his dedication and investment to the game. His father, John Lucas II, was an All-American at Maryland and went on to play 14 years in the NBA. Lucas II also was a head coach for three different NBA teams. Older brother to Jai, John Lucas III, also put together a successful basketball career. He was an impressive guard at Baylor University and Oklahoma State and played for the Chicago Bulls, Houston Rockets, Toronto Raptors, Minnesota Timberwolves, and Utah Jazz over his 12-year NBA career. He also followed after his father and was an assistant to the Timberwolves for two years after ending his playing career there.

Being the youngest in this basketball trilogy, we should welcome Jai Lucas as someone hungry to prove himself in our Wildcat family as well as his own. Though Lucas was never able to earn a career in the NBA, his work ethic is something that should be infectious to our young players after battling in and out of the NBA G-league, until finding his comfort in coaching. Like most of the players coming through Kentucky in the Calipari era, Lucas was a McDonald’s High School All-American.

Lucas will serve as an assistant to the head coach and recruiting coordinator for the program.

“I’ve known the Lucas family for 25 years and followed Jai’s career both as a player and as a coach,” said John Calipari. “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.”

At the University of Texas, Lucas played a big role in the development of two NBA draft picks Jarrett Allen and Jaxon Hayes. Known for having great relationships with his players, he should be a perfect fit under John Calipari, who seems to care about the players’ development and careers as much as his own. With his resume, Lucas might be a guy that we’ll be seeing around the program for a long time to come.

Jordan Brown is a Print Journalism major at the University of Kentucky. He was born and raised in Lexington and has been passionately following the Wildcats for the majority of his life. He played basketball in high school and is currently also serving as an assistant high school coach at Paul Laurence Dunbar in Lexington.

Dr. John Huang
Dr. John Huang is a retired orthodontist and military veteran. As a lifelong Wildcat fan, a fledgling author, and an occasional guest host of Just the Cats Radio, he's now living out his dream as a UK Sports columnist. Dr. Huang also covers professional sports on a regional level. You can follow him on Twitter @KYHuangs or contact him If you enjoy his writing, you can also read more at

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