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Duke associate head coach Jeff Capel hired as Pittsburgh's head coach

<p>After serving as Coach K's top assistant, Jeff Capel headed to the Steel City to become Pittsburgh's head coach.</p>

After serving as Coach K's top assistant, Jeff Capel headed to the Steel City to become Pittsburgh's head coach.

Duke associate head coach Jeff Capel will become the next head coach of Pittsburgh after agreeing on a seven-year contract with the school Tuesday, as first reported by 247Sports' Evan Daniels. Both programs later confirmed the hire.

Pittsburgh will be the third head coaching job of Capel’s career. Capel served as an assistant coach for Duke for the last seven seasons, but prior to returning to his alma mater, Capel was the head coach at VCU from 2002-06 and later at Oklahoma from 2006-11. The Fayetteville, N.C., native compiled a 162-110 record between the two programs, excluding 13 vacated wins in 2009-10 with the Sooners due to an assistant coach's alleged recruiting violations.


"Pittsburgh just made an amazing hire to lead its men’s basketball program. Having come from a proud basketball family, Jeff Capel is one of the most dynamic coaches in the country," Blue Devil head coach Mike Krzyzewski said in a statement. "He possesses championship-level experience as both a head and assistant coach, as well as distinct knowledge of the Atlantic Coast Conference that will benefit Pitt immediately."

Krzyzewski added, "I want to thank Jeff for being directly by my side for the past seven years and completely committed to our mission at Duke and with USA Basketball. His insight, passion for the game, relationships with our players, and most importantly, his friendship have meant the world to me and my family. "

The Panthers are coming off one of the worst seasons in conference history, failing to gain a victory in ACC play and going 8-24 overall. Pittsburgh fired head coach Kevin Stallings soon after its season ended.

Capel has been widely regarded as Krzyzewski's top recruiter for the Blue Devils and the chief architect of three of the last four top recruiting classes, per ESPN. 

"Duke University and Coach K have had a profound impact on my life," Capel in Pittsburgh's press release announcing the move. "I have learned so much about myself, first as a player and then as a coach, but most importantly as a man during my time in Durham. The values I have learned from Coach K, his family and his teams will continue to have a significant impact on my career as I look to build on a great tradition here at Pitt."

During his time at Oklahoma, Capel recruited McDonald's All-American and eventual No. 1 NBA Draft pick Blake Griffin, who carried the Sooners to an Elite Eight appearance under Capel in 2008-09. However, in his other eight seasons as a head coach, Capel never advanced past the first weekend of the NCAA tournament.

In each of the last three seasons, Capel has stepped in for Krzyzewski for at least one game, including a seven-game stretch of conference play in 2016-17 when Krzyzewski had surgery on a herniated disk. When Capel was reportedly offered the head job at Arizona State three years ago, he turned it down to stay in Durham.

With Capel leaving, Jon Scheyer and Nate James were both promoted from assistant coaches to associate head coaches, and Duke will still need to fill the opening left on its coaching staff. It could either elevate special assistant Nolan Smith to an assistant coach or make a hire from outside the program.

"Nate and Jon are former captains who clearly understand Duke and our culture," Krzyzewski said in a statement. "They're both national champions who've played an integral role in our success over the past two decades. As good as they were as players, and they were both excellent, they have been remarkable, distinguished and instinctive coaches who have earned this opportunity."

This story was updated at 2 p.m. to include announcements from both programs along with Krzyzewski's statement, and it was updated again at 8:20 p.m. to include the news of Scheyer's and James' promotions with Krzyzewski's separate statement.

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