Lucas explains move from Kentucky to Duke as family affair

Former University of Kentucky assistant basketball coach Jai Lucas was introduced as an assistant at Duke on Tuesday.  He explained the reason for his departure from UK hinged mostly on family.

Former University of Kentucky assistant basketball coach Jai Lucas was introduced as an assistant at Duke on Tuesday. He explained the reason for his departure from UK hinged mostly on family.

Duke Athletics

During an introductory news conference at Duke on Tuesday, Jai Lucas cited family ties as significant in his decision to leave Kentucky’s basketball staff.

“It was a big part of it,” he said. “I mean, it was kind of like the cherry on top, you know, the opportunity to be at Duke and be with Coach (Jon) Scheyer and the rest of the staff was really my main reason for doing it. But then throwing in the family part and being able to be around them, because I haven’t been with how hectic my schedule is with just being all over the place.

“So it was something I really wanted to do, and really wanted to be a part of is really just reconnecting with my family. And then having a family of my own, just bringing them around my family and bringing everybody together was a big part of it. “

Scheyer, who is replacing Hall of Famer Mike Krzyzewski as Duke coach, noted Lucas’ family ties to the area.

“The family connection that Jai has here is incredible. . . , ”Scheyer said. “The fact of what Durham means to him and being back here, you know, I just think he’s so special.”

The Lucas family has a deep and multi-generational tie to Duke’s home city of Durham, NC

The coach said his grandfather, John Lucas, is 101 years old and living in Durham. Plus, he said, he has more than 60 cousins ​​in the area.

The Lucas Middle School in Durham is named after the grandfather. Former basketball All-American John Lucas, who is Jai’s father, grew up in Durham as did the coach’s mother.

“My grandfather is really the superstar of my family,” Jai said. “You know, everybody always gives my father the credit for being the first pick (in the 1976 NBA Draft) and everything like that.

“But my grandfather, some of the stuff he’s done just for education in the state. He got, you know, his master’s at NYU. He has a middle school named after him here. So that’s something that’s always been near and dear. “

Lucas also said his father had a 4.0 grade-point average in college.

“So it’s something that is really important,” Lucas said of the education component. “And when you speak in higher education, universities, it doesn’t get any better than Duke.”

Lucas joined Kentucky’s staff in 2020. He began his coaching career for Texas. He spoke of a varied coaching experience.

“Recruiting at Texas is not the same as it was recruiting at Kentucky,” he said. “And I’m sure it won’t be the same as recruiting at Duke. Our biggest thing is people who fit Coach Scheyer. You know, that’s the most important thing. People who he’s gonna want to coach, who he’s gonna want to be around and who I think will be successful under him, and who we can help as a staff, you know, that’s the biggest part of it all. “

This story was originally published May 3, 2022 4:31 PM.

Jerry Tipton has covered Kentucky basketball beginning with the 1981-82 season to the present. He is a member of the United States Basketball Writers Association Hall of Fame.
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