Joel Justus is leaving the Kentucky Wildcats.
The move comes as little surprise to most people who keep up with the UK basketball program considering that the last several offseasons rumors have swirled about his potential departure.
It’s been no secret that Justus’ ultimate goal was centered around using his experience under John Calipari as a springboard to further his career and ultimately to become a head coach at some point.
One thing you can say for certain — Joel Justus will walk away from the program with his head held high and several accomplishments to hang his hat on.
The Winston-Salem (NC) joined the staff in 2014-2015 in the midst of one of the greatest runs in school history. Justus’ initial role was geared around analytics and implementing statistical data into the decision-making processes of the coaching staff. He was responsible for not only tracking in-house metrics but also those of opponents in order to create a tactical scouting report.
The following season his responsibilities were increased and Justus picked up the title of Special Assistant to Head Coach.
From there you can credit his efforts for the development of numerous key players and he saw his role expand into recruiting as well.
247 Sports lists Justus as a primary recruiter in the commitments of BJ Boston, Skyy Clark, Daimion Collins, Bryce Hopkins, Keldon Johnson and Immanuel Quickley just to name a few.
I’ve personally had the opportunity to see Justus in action with the team quite a bit over the past several seasons, and it goes without saying that he play a major role in the culture of the program.
It is kind of bizarre to think about starting your career at Kentucky in a season that produced a 38-0 run, the best in school history, then just six years later your departure follows a 9-16 campaign, one of the worst in school history.
That’s just how the cookie crumbled for Justus and I’m sure I speak for the entire Big Blue Nation when I wish him the best of luck at his next stop.
I always appreciated the way that Justus carried himself with professionalism. His disposition always reminded me of a head coach and he’s somebody that I believe has a bright future in this game.
Back in 2020, after Justus was named to a “Top 40 coaches under 40” list, John Calipari had this to say about his assistant, “I think I have the best staff in the country,” Calipari said. “Joel is one of the brightest and hardest working coaches in our game and has really come into his own.”
Now John Calipari’s attention will immediately shift to finding a replacement for Justus, if he hasn’t already. After an abysmal season and what some believe to be digression on the recruiting front — it will be critical to find the right person to jolt some swag back into the program.