Nolan Smith was a star at Duke as a player, and now thrives as a coaching assistant and director of basketball operations at his alma mater. But he recently revealed what his long-term ambitions are.
Speaking to The Chronicle, Smith revealed that his greatest ambition is to become a head coach. He feels that by returning to Duke and learning under Coach K, he would be groomed for a coaching role.
“I’ve always had aspirations of becoming a head coach,” Smith said. “And I think in a way that’s why I chose to come to Duke, I wanted to learn from the best and play for the best. But I also wanted to watch [head coach Mike Krzyzewski], to just see how he moved as a head coach.
“So now I’m in this role, being groomed and molded by the greatest coach of all time. This is what I’ve always wanted.”
Smith revealed in the interview that he’s inspired by his late father Derek Smith’s career as an NBA assistant.
But in the interim, he said he’s happy to be back at Duke and a part of the community he’s grown to love.
“I love Durham, I love Duke—I wouldn’t be back here if I didn’t love Duke,” Smith said. “This school, this community, it’s a special community to be a part of.”
Nolan Smith played four seasons at Duke, earning All-ACC honors twice and was named ACC Player of the Year in 2011. As a junior he helped lead the Blue Devils to an NCAA Championship in 2010 NCAA Tournament.
Upon graduating in 2011, he was drafted 21st overall by the Portland Trail Blazers. But his time in the NBA was short, and his playing career ended after he was waived by the Delaware 87ers in 2015.