And now, we have our bow.
With Duke holding its end-of-season banquet last week, and presenting the two banners that Mike Krzyzewski’s final team earned this season — one for the ACC regular-season title, one for the Final Four — it’s officially time to look to the future. Krzyzewski is retired, Jon Scheyer has officially taken over as head coach, and it’s time for the Blue Devils to start building next year’s roster in earnest.
Which means, we have some decisions on the way — many of which are expected this week, according to people inside and close to the program who spoke with The Athletic. Between NBA Draft departures, transfer portal possibilities, and roster returnees, there’s a lot going on around the Cameron Indoor complex these days. And, oh yeah: Scheyer still has one more assistant to hire for his bench, in the role vacated by his ascension to head coach.
Let’s start there. Scheyer has already made his first assistant coaching hire, promoting former director of player development Amile Jefferson to fill the void left by Nolan Smith departing for Louisville. One reason for Jefferson’s promotion, according to a source: In addition to his tutelage of Duke’s bigs, Jefferson has an exceptional voice and conviction for someone under 30. (Jefferson turns 29 in May.) On top of Jefferson’s promotion, Scheyer hired Mike Schrage — Duke’s longtime former director of basketball operations — away from Elon to become special assistant to the head coach. But even with associate head coach Chris Carrawell still in the fold, there’s one more open spot on the bench. Who might it go to? Sources tell The Athletic that Duke touched base with Kentucky assistant Jai Lucas about the position, but Lucas appears likely to stay at UK. The larger takeaway there, a source says, is that Scheyer is willing to hire outside the Duke brotherhood. Krzyzewski, by the end of his tenure, placed an emphasis on hiring exclusively former Duke players (and captains, if possible), but Scheyer is casting a wider net. Regardless, inside the program, there isn’t a rush to hire Scheyer’s third assistant because of how far ahead Duke is in regard to its 2023 recruiting class. The Blue Devils already have five verbal commits in the class, all of them top-30 prospects.