One of the worst kept men’s basketball secrets was finally revealed Monday. Texas assistant Jai Lucas is indeed leaving UT to join Kentucky as the Wildcats’ recruiting coordinator and special assistant to the head coach.
As a player, Lucas became part of a will-he-or-won’t-he commitment saga to Kentucky years ago. The McDonald’s All-American eventually chose Florida but later transferred to Texas and played for coach Rick Barnes.
“Texas, you will always be home!,” Lucas said in a statement posted on Twitter. “I have spent 1/3 of my life at UT and could never completely say goodbye to a place and the people that I love. This is more of a see you later.”
. @CoachJLuc, a highly-respected coach and former McDonald's High School All American , has joined the staff as the special assistant to the head coach and recruiting coordinator.#BBN, welcome Jai Lucas to #LaFamilia!
➡️ https://t.co/1hE1xmIaGz pic.twitter.com/WnlKWlmUSL
— Kentucky Basketball (@KentuckyMBB) August 31, 2020
Lucas started his coaching career with UT and eventually became an assistant for Shaka Smart and one of the Horns’ key recruiters. Kentucky’s John Calipari is counting on Lucas to have that same recruiting touch in Lexington.
“As our fans know, Jai was recruited here as a player and knows a lot about this program,” Calipari said in a statement. “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.”
Lucas’ departure creates another opening on UT’s staff. The Horns just filled one vacancy last week by hiring SMU’s K.T. Turner. Smart could promote Cody Hatt, UT’s current director of basketball operations, or look outside.
“We are very appreciative of all Jai’s contributions over the last several years, as both a player and coach, at the University of Texas,” Smart said in a statement. “He will always be a member of our basketball family. We wish Jai and his family all of the best with this next chapter in his career.”
Contact Brian Davis at 512-445-3957. Email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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