It was a tough week for the Kentucky Wildcats basketball program as they lost Kenny Payne and DeWayne Peevy in such a short term.
Now, they are looking to turn that around.
Last week, a job opening was posted within the men’s basketball program as a special assistant to the head coach/recruiting coordinator with a deadline to apply being August 27th.
The new job listing wasn’t a shock, as it came just days after it was reported that Jai Lucas had emerged as a serious candidate to join the Wildcats’ staff.
On Monday, Pete Thamel reported that Lucas (who is a current assistant coach at Texas) was in the process of finalizing a deal to join the Kentucky staff in an “off-court role.”
Sources: Texas basketball assistant Jai Lucas is finalizing a deal to go to Kentucky. Lucas will be in an off-court role for the Wildcats.— Pete Thamel (@PeteThamel) August 24, 2020
It was later reported that the deal included $350,000 a year to be Calipari’s assistant. But why would Lucas leave Texas as a full-time assistant to go to Lexington in an off-court role that wouldn’t allow him to recruit off campus?
Jack Pilgrim of Kentucky Sports Radio broke down perhaps the biggest loophole that coach Cal has found to boost the recruiting staff.
Could it be that Lucas anticipates Shaka Smart to be out at Texas after this season? Or maybe will Lucas step into a full-time assistant role at Kentucky after the one year he is expected to hold this position?
“With the hiring of the Texas ace recruiter, Kentucky will be able to have John Calipari, Bruiser Flint, Tony Barbee, Joel Justus, and Lucas together on Zoom calls/virtual visits, and it will be completely legal.” Pilgrim wrote.
“While he won’t be able to pick up the phone and call or text recruits and their families with limited restrictions the same way Calipari, Flint, Barbee and Justus can as official coaches, Lucas will still be able to serve as a key recruiting piece and potentially help seal the deal on commitments as the “virtual visit” trend continues to pick up and on- and off-campus recruiting continues to get pushed back.”
KSR has reported that secondary staff members have already been involved in virtual visits with recruits in recent weeks.
In an off-court special assistant role, Lucas will not be able to recruit off campus. However, what Lucas can do in his new role is make phone calls leading up to official and unofficial visits, along with contacting signed prospects, among other behind-the-scenes work.
If you look at the NCAA’s COVID-19 Question and Answer Guide, you will see that as long as Zoom meetings are initiated by a legal coach (Calipari, Flint, Barbee or Justus) “any institutional staff member may participate in the call.”
Although Lucas will be doing a lot of evaluation, administration, and scouting behind the scenes, he will still be able to do what he does best and be utilized as an unofficial recruiter moving forward.
If the NCAA happens to allow on-campus visits in the near future, Lucas will play a vital role on that front as well.
It is unclear when in-person recruiting will resume, but Kentucky is doing a fantastic job of revamping its staff to compete with the best of the best on and off the floor.