The first coaching turnover of note has happened in the Shaka Smart era, with UT Director of Basketball Operations Jai Lucas reportedly heading to TCU to become an assistant coach for new TCU Horned Frogs HC Jamie Dixon. If this move is finalized, it represents the end of a fairly unusual Texas tenure for Jai; the lone holdover from the Rick Barnes program is now headed to greener (or purpler, I guess) pastures (deserts? I'm quickly losing my grip on this turn of phrase). My initial reaction to this news was one of annoyance as Jai represents the shortest path to the singularly-fertile recruiting ground known was John Lucas' basketball camps and letting him leave could be a significant blow to the Texas Longhorns' recruiting efforts, but upon further viewing I am less concerned than I was before. Here's why:
- Texas is a dead-end job for Jai at this point. For him to advance in Austin, somebody has to leave. With Darrin Horn turning down the Western Kentucky HC spot, there were no openings for Jai to fill. Maybe Shaka bumps him up a notch if Horn leaves, but that wasn't available to offer. The time to offer Jai an assistant coaching spot was last year, but that didn't happen (for legitimate reasons that have nothing to do with Jai).
- Nothing I've found to this point suggests anything other than a young guy jumping at a chance to advance his career. In short, I don't think there's any acrimony between Jai & Texas that might fundamentally alter John Lucas' opinion of the 40 Acres.
- Shaka is so intimately involved with recruiting that I have no doubts he (and/or Mike Morrell) has struck up a relationship with John Lucas over the past year and feels like he can mend any issues John might have - and to be clear, I'm not aware of John taking issue with this situation - with Jai's departure.
How does this affect the Jarrett Allen recruiting? Beyond Kelvin Sampson sending 1,400 "look what they did to ya boy" texts to Allen, hopefully not a ton. Texas has the lead with Allen and I would hope that he values the relationship with Shaka more than whatever input Jai had into the situation, but I don't pretend to understand the decision-making of any 18-year-old. (I didn't even understand mine when I was 18, much less a complete stranger's thoughts on his own future.) Who Shaka hires to fill Jai's role will be interesting, but not likely earth-shattering.
It would be wise to keep an eye on TCU's recruiting efforts over the next couple of years; if TCU starts landing a much-higher caliber of recruit, Jai is likely one of the reasons behind the ascension. I always felt like he was destined for bigger things, I just wanted them to be in Austin. I wish good luck to the former Longhorn in his new digs.
BWG's writing tunes provided by Basil O'Glue (SFW).
4/29 3:15p update: It appears that Jai may be staying, though nothing is yet final.
Sounds as though Shaka Smart will keep Jai Lucas on staff. Lucas was close to joining Jamie Dixon's staff at TCU as an assistant.— Jeff Goodman (@GoodmanESPN) April 29, 2016
4/30 10:58a update: Per our friends at BON, it looks as though Shaka is reshuffling the staff & Mike Morrell is taking a demotion to keep Jai on staff. This is...well, I won't say it's unprecedented, but it's highly irregular.
Shaka Smart demoting Mike Morrell off the road to move Jai Lucas up, per source. Like Jai, but Morrell got majority of players in UT class.— Jeff Goodman (@GoodmanESPN) April 30, 2016
Sure is. This is a head-scratcher by Shaka. https://t.co/0dXubvvmIG— Jeff Goodman (@GoodmanESPN) April 30, 2016