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Kentucky lands Orlando Antigua and Chin Coleman

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COLLEGE BASKETBALL: JAN 11 Rutgers at Illinois Photo by Michael Allio/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

It’s finally complete.

The Kentucky Wildcats are hiring Illinois assistants Orlando Antigua and Ron “Chin” Coleman to join John Calipari’s coaching staff, the school announced Thursday.

Antigua, who was part of Calipari’s original staff that came to Lexington in 2009, was instrumental in the success of Kentucky basketball. To give you an idea of how massive of a hire this could turn out to be, Kentucky has not been to a Final Four since 2015, one year after Antigua left town.

Most of Kentucky’s teams since then have not met expectations (I legitimately think the 2020 Final Four was very possible). And Calipari continues to lose out on top-five recruits, something that was seemingly unheard of when Antigua resided in Lexington.

Something needed to change, and Kentucky is making a big splash by reuniting Antigua with Calipari.

Antigua was an assistant at Kentucky from 2009-2014 before leaving to become the head coach at South Florida. During his time there, Kentucky had the No. 1 recruiting class in every single year. That has only happened twice (2015 and 2020) during his seven-year absence.

The 48-year-old Antigua would coach the South Florida Bulls for two and a half seasons, then was fired in January of 2017. During his time there, the program did not excel in ways that the administration expected. There were also NCAA violations relating to academics that got Oliver Antigua, Orlando’s brother, fired and given a show cause penalty.

Since being let go by South Florida, Antigua has been an assistant at Illinois, where he has helped land top recruits Kofi Cockburn, Adam Miller and Andre Curbelo. When at Kentucky, he was the lead recruiter for some guys you may remembers: Trey Lyles, Nerlens Noel, Terrence Jones and Karl-Anthony Towns among others.

This hire is certainly causing a lot of buzz, getting many fans excited about Antigua’s recruiting prowess. There are also rumors of other changes on the way.

While Antigua is a major get, don’t underestimate how huge getting Chin Coleman is as well.

Coleman, who’s been with the Fighting Illini since 2017, has mainly worked with the guards and help develop All-American Ayo Dosunmu, who won the 2021 Bob Cousy Point Guard of the Year award.

Before he got to Illinois, Coleman was an assistant at UIC where he helped recruit and mentor Dikembe Dixson, who was named Horizon League Freshman of the Year in 2016.

Before his time at UIC, Coleman spent three years as an assistant at Bradley and was named assistant head coach during his final season with the program in 2015.

Prior to entering the college coaching ranks, Coleman coached renowned AAU program Mac Irvin Fire from 2005-11. Among the notable recruits that program produced include Jabari Parker, Jahlil Okafor, Meyers Leonard, Patrick McCaw, Ryan Boatright, Tim Hardaway Jr., and former Wildcat Kahlil Whitney.

As a player, Coleman was a point guard at Weber State (1992-93), then transferred to Lamar for his remaining three years of eligibility. As the starting point guard for the Cardinals, Coleman led his team in scoring three straight seasons and was named First-Team All-Sun Belt Conference in each season.

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