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John Calipari completes Kentucky coaching staff with hiring of former Texas assistant Jai Lucas


By Keith Taylor
Kentucky Today

John Calipari’s revamped coaching staff is now complete.

The University of Kentucky men’s basketball coach hired University of Texas assistant coach Jai Lucas, who will serve as a special assistant to the head coach and recruiting coordinator. Lucas will be in charge of the team’s recruiting and also assist Calipari in other capacities such as scouting, player development, and special projects assigned by the UK head coach.

“For our team to add a young but established and accomplished coach to our staff was an opportunity we were thrilled to have,” Calipari said. “I’ve known the Lucas family for 25 years and followed Jai’s career both as a player and as a coach. 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.”

Jai Lucas

Lucas expressed his excitement about joining the Kentucky coaching staff. While at Texas, Lucas helped recruit Jarrett Allen, Mohamed Bamba, and Jaxon Hayes.

“My family and I are excited about coming to the University of Kentucky and joining the Big Blue Nation,” Lucas said. “The opportunity to work under a Hall of Fame head coach and three former head coaches, along with a good friend in Joel Justus was hard to turn down. When you think of college basketball you think of Kentucky and its tradition, the fan base, and championships. I am thankful for the opportunity to finally be a part of the University of Kentucky basketball family. Let’s go get number nine.”

Lucas has spent the past eight years as Texas, where he began as a special assistant to former Longhorns coach and current Tennessee men’s basketball coach Rick Barnes. He has spent the past three seasons as an assistant coach at Texas under Shaka Smart. Lucas is the son of former NBA standout John Lucas and played for the Longhorns during his collegiate career. Lucas also played two years in the NBA D-League and also one season in the Baltic League in Latvia. He played two seasons at the University of Florida before transferring to Texas.

Calipari is looking forward to the upcoming season with a staff that features two new assistant coaches.

“With the staff we have assembled and the people who are a part of our program, I’m really excited to get started with this group,” Calipari said. “I like my team.”

Keith Taylor is sports editor for Kentucky Today. Reach him at keith.taylor@kentuckytoday.com or twitter @keithtaylor21.


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