The figurative ink on Jai Lucas’s e-contract with Kentucky is nonetheless wet. That doesn’t suggest his relationship with the school is new. The Kentucky Basketball assistant has a unique, oddly nostalgic history with UK, tracing again extra than a decade. This records makes the Lucas hire particularly significant to Wildcats followers – greater meaningful than if some different young teaching prodigy had taken the role.
In 2007, Lucas was once the middle of a frenzy that marked the early age of recruiting forums. This hysteria, manufactured primarily by Kentucky followers suppressed by using years of substandard recruiting, billed Lucas as the factor shield of the future. A five-star recruit, he was once UK’s high-quality conceivable commit seeing that Rajon Rondo in 2004.
Led through new head train Billy Gillispie, Kentucky had a blueprint to fix its program. Beyond 2008, Kentucky’s shield depth was once looking, well, inclined – to put things nicely. Adding Lucas would supply steadiness and defense at factor guard. He would be the floor frequent creating plays for to Patterson and Jodie Meeks.
So Lucas committed to Florida.
A 12 months passed. Lucas used to be named to the SEC All-Freshman team. Kentucky overcame accidents to three of its great gamers and made a late-season push to sneak into the NCAA Tournament. Unrest, however, used to be on the horizon for each parties.
For his freshman year, Lucas had been moved to shooting shield so that Nick Calathes may want to be the foremost ball-handler. Calathes used to be sticking around for at least some other year, and Lucas decided there have been greener pastures for his future as a factor guard. Meanwhile, in Lexington, UK had misplaced almost 2,800 profession backcourt factors (Ramel Bradley/Joe Crawford) to graduation. Derrick Jasper, the point shield inheritor apparent, transferred to UNLV. In that offense, someone with Lucas’s ability set would have led the convention in assists.
The opportunity for Lucas to find his new home was once there for the taking. Coach Gillispie was shaking the keys to the huge blue Ferrari. He simply wished anyone to professional sufficient to pressure it.
So Lucas committed to Texas.
Over at Kentucky, a cave in used to be in progress. The Wildcats led the SEC in subject goal percentage, an advantage wasted by using averaging 17 turnovers per game. The latter was once predictable without a reliable point guard. This didn’t bode well for the Wildcats’ future at that position, either.
A deteriorating season ended with the most weird March in UK history. Stories arose about Gillispie’s mistreatment and mismanagement of players. In numerous games, he instructed Jodie Meeks to quit capturing (for context: Meeks shot 41% from three and broke severa school files that year).
Jai Lucas’ course to Kentucky
In April 2009, Kentucky hired John Calipari, whose factor guards have proceeded to earn contracts that dwarf different countries’ GDPs. Since Calipari’s hiring, Kentucky has more wins than any different program. Safe to say matters worked out in the Bluegrass.
Lucas played two years at Texas in a help function followed via several years in the NBA G-League. This commenced a promising profession in coaching. Fast forward to summer 2020: Still, on the Texas staff, Lucas built a popularity as a first-rate recruiter.
So Lucas dedicated to Kentucky.
In every other universe, had Lucas attended Kentucky – either out of high college famous person or as a transfer – would any of this have happened? Maybe he ends up in the backcourt for a number of Final Four teams. Maybe a butterfly impact keeps Billy Gillispie in Lexington, creating a continuum that entails recruiting eighth-graders and difficult to understand JUCO transfers, making Lucas Kentucky’s last-ever blue-chip recruit.