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John Calipari, Joel Justus release statements on move to Arizona State

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Justus joins the Sun Devils after seven years in Lexington.

Joel Justus Jason Marcum - Sea of Blue

Kentucky men’s basketball assistant coach Joel Justus has officially accepted an assistant coach position at Arizona State, the school announced Wednesday.

Justus originally joined Wildcats for the historic 2014-15 season as the director of analytics. He analyzed player and team performance, utilizing various stats and data to help develop efficient strategies through video. He developed tools that streamlined the decision-making process of the coaching staff using advanced statistical modeling and analysis.

Justus also analyzed large data sets to aid the coaching staff’s scouting reports as well as postgame analysis. He assisted in day-to-day operations of the program, which included coordinating with NBA personnel while assisting in many areas of basketball operations.

With Justus on staff, UK totaled 187 wins, five NCAA Tournament appearances, a Final Four berth, three Elite Eight runs, four Southeastern Conference regular-season championships and four SEC Tournament titles over the last seven seasons.

“It is hard for me to believe that my time at Kentucky has come to an end,” Justus said in a press release. “The memories I have of this place, the players I have been for fortunate enough to coach and form lifelong relationships with, and the honor I have had to coach at the winningest program in college basketball is something I will never take for granted. It has been the opportunity of a lifetime.

“With that said, this was a challenge and an opportunity at Arizona State under Bobby Hurley that I felt like was in the best interest of my career as I continue to chase my dreams in the coaching profession. Coach Hurley was an icon and a role model of mine growing up, and to have the opportunity to learn from him was something I just couldn’t pass up, similar to when I began this journey seven years ago under a Hall of Fame coach in John Calipari.

“I want to thank Coach Cal for taking that chance on me to work for the greatest tradition in college basketball and learn at the highest level. I also want to thank Mitch Barnhart for entrusting me with playing a part in this program to lead our student-athletes. Kentucky will always hold a special place in my heart. To the young men i have had the privilege of coaching at Kentucky, you will always be family.”

In recent years, The Athletic tabbed Justus as one of the top 40 people in college basketball under 40, and ESPN named him one of the nation’s top 40 coaches less than 40 years old in 2020.

“Joel talked to me about this opportunity to be at Arizona State with a terrific coach in Bobby Hurley,” Kentucky head coach John Calipari said in a press release. “He had my blessing, but I want to make sure we all recognize that we are losing someone who was a big, big part of all our success over the last several years. From Shai Gilgeous-Alexander to Keldon Johnson to Immanuel Quickley and others, Joel was not only the point guy with some of our players who became special, he helped develop them, teach them and challenge them. Joel is one of the top young assistants in the country who I believe will make a heck of a head coach someday soon. I wish him the best and I will always be a great supporter of his.”

After successfully integrating analytics into the daily culture of the program, Justus was elevated to special assistant to the head coach for the 2015-16 season. With his previous responsibilities remaining an active part of his duties, Justus’ role expanded to include scouting future opponents, providing strategies to help advance the program and assisting with special projects assigned by Calipari.

Justus came to UK after serving as the head coach at Davidson Day High School in Davidson, North Carolina. In both years at the helm, he guided the Patriots to the Elite Eight in the state tournament.

Best of luck with at Arizona State!