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Assistant Coach Radvile Autukaite is Kentucky WBB's hidden gem

Screenshot 2023-11-10 at 1.25.30 PMby:Phoenix Stevens06/10/24

PStevensKSR

When Kentucky hired Kenny Brooks, people knew good things were coming. For one, Brooks himself is an excellent coach with the resume to back that sentiment up. However, he also brought over a good amount of the staff he had at Virginia Tech, including assistant coach Radvile Autukaite — Coach Rad for short.

Coach Rad is about as good as it gets as an assistant, both on and off the court. TechSidline editor David Cunningham covered the Hokies during her tenure in Blacksburg, and he talked with KSR about just how much of a difference maker Coach Rad can be for a program.

The secret to being an elite international recruiter

Kentucky’s roster contains a healthy mix of international talent, and that is no mistake. When Brooks elevated Coach Rad to an assistant following the 2021-22 season, she immediately made an impact on the recruiting trail.

“When she was at Virginia Tech, she helped Kenny Brooks and the program expand their reach internationally,” Cunningham told KSR. “She had a large hand in the original commitment of Clara Silva, who followed the staff to Kentucky, and her international background (Lithuania) is very comforting when she’s recruiting abroad, sometimes kids don’t speak fluent English.”

She also played a big part in reeling in Kentucky’s latest commitment, Dominika Paurová, as well.

Cunningham added, “In a way, she’s been in their shoes before, and she’s great at building those relationships and maintaining them.”

Leaving your home and moving thousands of miles away is tough on anyone, especially on 18-19 year old kids. It’s challenging for international players to make that jump, all in hopes for an opportunity. The uncertainty and sacrifices of it all can be overwhelming. However, Coach Rad is someone that those international players can lean on and relate to.

As Cunningham put it, “Radvile’s story is unique — and in many ways, that’s what makes her so relatable as a recruiter.”

Making scouting reports and being knowledgeable

Perhaps the best thing about Coach Rad is that she isn’t one dimensional. She’s more than just a recruiter. She’s also pretty good when it comes to the X’s and O’s too.

“On the floor, she’s a fantastic coach with a unique eye for detail and puts together a tremendous scout,” Cunningham mentioned.

Coach Rad even played a pivotal role against specific opponents, allowing the Hokies to be dominant in the ACC. In her first season as an assistant coach in 2022-23, they won the ACC Tournament and made a run to the Final Four. Last season, Virginia Tech won the ACC Regular Season Championship. 

“For example, she always played a big role in or had Virginia Tech’s scout against North Carolina,” Cunningham explained. “In her time with the program, the Hokies were 11-3 in the series and won six in a row.” The Tar Heels have been a team in the upper-half of the league in recent years, even finishing 3rd in the ACC in 2021-22.

Cunningham also noted, “She knows her stuff, and the majority of her coaching development was under Brooks at Tech — which is why she’s one of his top assistants. He knows firsthand how talented she is.”

Kentucky got a good one in Coach Rad. Off the court, she’s already helped turn the ‘Cats around heading into what should be an exciting season. Only time will tell in seeing what she does on the sidelines in Memorial Coliseum.

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2024-06-23