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John Calipari Issues Statement After Top Assistant Leaves For Duke

John Calipari during a Kentucky game.

LEXINGTON, KENTUCKY - JANUARY 26: John Calipari the head coach of the Kentucky Wildcats watches the action against the Kansas Jayhawks at Rupp Arena on January 26, 2019 in Lexington, Kentucky. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)

On Friday, assistant coach Jai Lucas took part in some Blue Blood hopping -- leaving John Calipari's Kentucky program to join Jon Scheyer's first staff as head coach of the Duke Blue Devils.

Instead of feeling betrayed by this news, Coach Cal took to Twitter with a message of support for his former Wildcats assistant.

"Yesterday, Jai informed me he was taking a promotion at another school," he wrote in a statement. "I asked where and he told me Duke, he expected me to be mad. I support what he thinks is best for his family. He's been loyal, terrific on the road and great for our players, and I want what's best for him, so I'm good with it.

"I am not surprised that there was interest in Jai because there is always interest in our staff. This year, all of our assistants have been approached about other opportunities. When you have a great staff, that's what happens!"

Lucas served as an assistant coach/recruiting coordinator under Coach Cal for two seasons. In 2021, he was recognized as the second best recruiter in the nation behind only his new Duke head coach Jon Scheyer. Following his playing career with Texas (2007-11), Lucas also served as an assistant coach for the Longhorns' program.

With the arrival of Lucas in Durham, the Blue Devils' already undefeated recruiting network just got even more powerful. Duke already holds the No. 1 overall recruiting class in 2022, including four five-star recruits and all three of the nations top-three prospects.

Lucas helped land two five-star recruits for Calipari's 2022 class. Despite the news of Lucas' departure, the father of No. 7 overall recruit Carson Wallace said his son is still "locked in" with Kentucky.