Cats add Jai Lucas to Basketball Staff


Kentucky head coach John Calipari instructs the team from the sidelines during the CBS Sports Classic game against UCLA on Saturday, December 23, 2017 in New Orleans, Louisiana. Kentucky was defeated 83-75. Photo by Arden Barnes | Staff

Barkley Truax

After picking up Bruiser Flint last week, John Calipari has added another assistant from a notable program to his ranks.

Jai Lucas, who played two years of college basketball for Texas and served as an assistant coach there for the past five seasons, is set to join the University of Kentucky men’s basketball coaching staff. His official position, according to a UK press release, is “Special Assistant to the Head Coach/Recruiting Coordinator.”

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

“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. I like my team.”

Lucas, who’s only 31 years old, joined the Longhorns as a special assistant in 2013 under now-Tennessee head coach, Rick Barnes. Once Shaka Smart became head coach in 2015, he was promoted to director of basketball operations. He became a full-time assistant in 2016 and served in that role for the duration of his time with the program.

Regarded as one of the best young names in the recruiting game, he’s been able to secure commitments from names such as Mohamed Bamba as well as former Kentucky target Greg Brown III.

Many Wildcat fans are sure to find his name familiar, but probably not because of his recruiting prowess. When Lucas was entering college in 2007, he was a top-20 recruit and McDonald’s All-American, and chose to play basketball for rival Florida instead of the Wildcats.

Had Lucas come to Lexington then, he would paired with Patrick Patterson to kick off Billy Gillispie’s tenure. Instead, he played just one season in Gainesville before leaving to finish his collegiate career with the Longhorns.

Thirteen years later, the Cats finally landed their man.