Kentucky is looking to add a very familiar name to its basketball coaching staff.
Sources tell KSR that UK is in talks with Texas assistant coach Jai Lucas – yes, that Jai Lucas – to join the basketball program, a move that is expected to come to fruition in the very near future.
KSR has learned that conversations with Lucas began as early as last week around the same time of Kenny Payne’s departure and Bruiser Flint’s rumored addition. Kentucky is expected to add both Flint and Lucas to the coaching staff, the former focusing primarily on the X’s and O’s and the latter expected to take over a primary recruiting role as a special assistant to the head coach.
“Would be a big get if we could pull that off,” a source close to the Kentucky basketball program told KSR Tuesday morning.
“Jai Lucas is a specialist, knows everyone in the country. Limitless resources,” another source familiar with the situation told KSR on Monday evening. “Could be an assistant like he is now but more of a connections guy. Fits like a glove [at Kentucky].”
Sources tell KSR that Texas is already searching for a replacement for Lucas, with Baylor’s Alvin Brooks being seen as an early favorite.
The 31-year-old has been with the University of Texas since 2013, serving as a special assistant under Rick Barnes before being promoted to director of basketball operations under Shaka Smart in 2015. He was then promoted to his current post as an assistant coach in June 2016.
In his time as a full-time assistant at Texas, Lucas has established himself as one of the top up-and-coming names in college basketball recruiting, helping the program sign top-ten prospects and former Kentucky targets Mohamed Bamba and Greg Brown III, among other four- and five-star talent.
Barring an imminent coaching staff change – including a potential shift of roles within the program – Lucas would not be able to recruit off-campus as things stand today as a special assistant. The hope, though, would be for him to ultimately find himself on the recruiting trail in the near future. Given the current state of affairs with in-person recruiting – there are rumblings we may not see that again until 2021 – that may not even matter, essentially adding another elite in-house recruiter to the fold to help with Zoom calls, virtual visits, etc.
In terms of connections with Kentucky basketball, Lucas – a former McDonald’s All American and top-20 high school prospect – turned down the Wildcats in favor of Florida in 2007, and then again as a transfer in 2008 when the 5-foot-10 point guard took his talents to Texas for the final two years of his career (2009-11).
Lucas’ recruitment was one of the most well-documented in Kentucky Sports Radio history, with the website publishing 327 total posts on the high-profile guard over the course of his basketball career.
Now, 13 years later, Lucas is expected to officially end up in Lexington.