NEW ORLEANS (AP) — Duke assistant coach Nolan Smith is heading to Louisville.
A person with knowledge of the situation said the former Blue Devils All-American has informed the team that he will leave to become the associate head coach under new Cardinals coach Kenny Payne. The person spoke to The Associated Press on Tuesday morning on condition of anonymity because neither school has publicly confirmed the move.
Louisville team spokesman Kenny Klein said Tuesday that the Cardinals have yet to make any official staff hirings for Payne, who was hired in March as an assistant coach with the NBA’s New York Knicks and was a player on the Cardinals’ 1986 NCAA championship team.
Smith has a family connection to Louisville. His father, the late Derek Smith, was a starting forward on the Cardinals’ 1980 NCAA title winner who went on to play nine years in the NBA. Derek Smith died in 1996 of a heart attack at age 34 when he was an assistant coach with the NBA’s Washington Bullets.
Losing Smith is a blow for new Duke head coach Jon Scheyer, who has taken over after spending the past nine months as the designated successor to now-retired Hall of Famer Mike Krzyzewski. Scheyer will now have to hire two assistant coaches as he gets rolling with his staff, one being to replace his own position before his promotion.
The 33-year-old Smith is considered a rising star in the coaching world, particularly with his public stands on social-justice issues dating to 2020. He had joined the Duke staff in February 2016 in a supporting role, then moved up to director of basketball operations and player development in 2018.
Smith moved up to assistant coach last April when Nate James left to become Austin Peay’s coach.
AP Sports Writer Gary B. Graves in Louisville contributed to this report.
Follow Aaron Beard on Twitter at https://twitter.com/aaronbeardap
More AP college basketball: https://apnews.com/hub/college-basketball and https://apnews.com/hub/ap-top-25-college-basketball-poll and https://twitter.com/AP_Top25