Jai Lucas gets to work

Newly hired Duke Basketball Assistant Coach Jai Lucas tweeted out an introduction to fans yesterday on his first day on the job. The 33-year old former Kentucky and Texas assistant was hired away from the Wildcats by jon scheyer last week, with an official announcement of the addition yesterday. On Day One, Lucas tweeted out a picture from the South lobby of Cameron Indoor Stadium as he entered his new office, and then a video tour of Lucas being shown the ins and outs of the Duke Athletics Campus followed.

While Lucas grew up in the Houston area, his dad is a Durham native and he still has a number of extended family members in the area. He said on the video released today that he has upwards of sixty cousins ​​still around Durham.

“My family and I are excited to be joining the Duke University family,” said Lucas. “The opportunity to come to Duke and be apart of jon scheyer‘s first staff was something I felt I could not pass up. I look forward to building on the foundation established by Mike Krzyzewski and the former Blue Devils, while helping Coach Scheyer usher in a new era of Duke Basketball. Durham is a special place for me, and I’m thrilled to get to be around so many of my family members.”

Returning back to Durham was a big factor in Lucas taking the job, but the importance of his family places on education was another big reason he looked at Duke as a place he wanted to coach. Lucas spoke to the media yesterday to explain how his family’s educational experience led him to become a coach.

“My grandfather is really the superstar of my family. 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 and the state … My father was also valedictorian, he held a 4.0 in college all three years he was there. It’s something that was really important and when you’re speaking of higher education and universities, it doesn’t get any better than Duke. That played a factor in it too. Just being around, hopefully, some of it will rub off on me, and some of the things that are established here and have been established here I just hope to soak in, and that was a big part.”

One of Lucas’ jobs on the Kentucky staff was as recruiting coordinator, one of many roles he’s held in the coaching profession in college basketball. He explained how his approach to that side of the business could change now that he’s recruiting guys to play at Duke instead of for UK.

“I think everyone has their own style and their own template, but you have to adjust to where you are. Recruiting at Texas is not the same as recruiting at Kentucky and I’m sure it’s not going to be the same as recruiting at Duke. The biggest thing is people who fit Coach Scheyer. That’s the most important thing, people he’s going to want to coach, people he’s going to want to be around who I think will be successful under him and who we can help as a staff. That’s the biggest part of it all. It really starts with Coach Scheyer and what he sees, what’s his vision of him of how he wants the program to look and what he wants it to be. Then, that kind of determines who you recruit.”

Lucas has been lauded throughout his career for his ability to make connections with players and aid in their development. He spoke about that in yesterday’s press conference.

“It really starts with the relationship. That’s how you build it – time spent. You have to spend time with them. Of course, you’re going to spend time on the court going through all your basketball stuff, but the biggest time is off the court. You can connect on a different level. They see you differently, bringing them over to the house, having them around your family. Things like that build on the relationship, then you have to go from there. A big part of it is you have to be reliable and you have to be there for them. Not just when it’s going good, but also when things are going bad because everybody’s going to have some type of scenario, situation, or something happen in the season where it doesn’t go great. They have to know you’re in their corner with them no matter what. Through all those experiences and that relationship builds that connection.”

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