Will Mike Krzyzewski pull a Tom Brady? Jay Williams thinks there’s a “legit chance.”
The former Duke star, who won an NCAA national championship with the Blue Devils in 2001, speculated that Krzyzewski could return to Duke to secure his 2022 recruiting class following reports that Duke assistant coach Nolan Smith is heading to Louisville.
“It leaves a huge gap at Duke,” Williams said on ESPN’s “Keyshawn, JWill & Max Show” on Tuesday. “And the question is, who fills that void from a recruiting perspective? And it leads me to think, which I’ve been thinking a lot about since I heard this news (Monday), does Coach K come back for another season? One more final season.”
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Williams credited Smith as the key behind Duke’s 2022 recruiting class. He questioned whether Smith’s departure could cause some recruits to “de-commit” or “go to other schools.”
“They were recruited and have close relationships with Nolan Smith. It’s like, if I recruit (NFL star Keyshawn Johnson), and I’m one of the main reasons he’s coming to my school, and now I’m leaving the school — even though the school has a great footprint — that creates a different dynamic between all these players,” Williams said.
Williams continued: “If you’re Dereck Lively II, who’s a top-three rated player in the class, if you’re Tarik Whitehead, who’s the No. 1-rated player in the class as a guard — do you want to come to a first-year head coach where the relatability you had with the assistant is no longer there?”
That’s where Williams said Krzyzewski could come in.
“If you’re Nolan Smith, and you have a great relationship with all these players, you’re in the (same) conference. You’re at Louisville. You’re picking up the phone and (recruiting the stars from Duke) ,” Williams said. “It turns into recruiting battles. It weakens the hold of Duke. If you’re Coach K, how do you strengthen that hold? You’re coming back.”
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Williams said this scenario is “sheer speculation,” but noted it may be necessary.
Krzyzewski’s 42-year tenure as Duke coach came to an end against longtime rival North Carolina on Saturday in the Final Four of the men’s NCAA Tournament. Jon Scheyer will take over as Duke’s head coach.
As for Smith, Williams said he’s “really happy” for him.
“He deserves to be an associate head coach. To go back to where his father played — he lost his father when he was younger,” Williams said, referring to Smith’s father, the late Derek Smith. “I love that for Kenny Payne, who was an assistant coach with the Knicks and worked under John Calipari at Kentucky, now the head coach of Louisville. Louisville is about to be a crazy program for bringing Nolan Smith on as associate head coach.”