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Duke hires Kara Lawson as next women's basketball head coach

This will be Duke Athletic Director Kevin White's first major coaching hire during his 12 years in Durham.
This will be Duke Athletic Director Kevin White's first major coaching hire during his 12 years in Durham.

We finally know who will be leading the Blue Devils in the post-Joanne P. McCallie era.

Duke officially welcomed current Boston Celtics assistant coach Kara Lawson as its new women's basketball coach Saturday afternoon, announcing the decision on the team's official Twitter account.

"Well, it is a dream come true for me," Lawson said in the official press release. "I have wanted to be a coach since I was a kid. To have an opportunity to lead a group of young women at a prestigious university like Duke—I have run out of words; it is unbelievable and very exciting.  

"I am thankful for the path that led me here and thankful for the belief of President Price, [Athletic Director] Kevin White, [Senior Deputy Director of Athletics and Chief of Staff] Nina King, Coach Krzyzewski, Coach Cutcliffe and everyone surrounding the program. Everybody I spoke with and had a chance to interact with, I immediately felt a great connection.  It wasn't a decision based on emotion, but there was a lot of emotion involved in it because of how excited I am and how ready I am to get started and to work with the players."

The News and Observer's Steve Wiseman reported Friday that Duke was "close to hiring" Kara Lawson as its next women's basketball coach. 

The Boston Globe's Gary Washburn later added that Lawson "completed her final interviews and is expected to finalize a deal" to become the Blue Devils' next coach before reporting that she had accepted the position Saturday morning.

"A highly-seasoned champion at multiple levels within the basketball landscape, Kara Lawson is the ideal fit for Duke University," White said in the release. "Throughout the process, it became abundantly clear that her authenticity, passion, contemporary vision and unwavering commitment to the student-athlete experience align seamlessly with the values of the institution. With her high degree of emotional intelligence, Kara's astute ability to connect with future, current and former student-athletes, as well as the passionate and dedicated supporters of Duke women's basketball, will have an immediate and profound impact on the entire program."

Lawson played four years under Pat Summitt at Tennessee before being taken with the fifth overall pick in the 2003 WNBA Draft. She won a WNBA championship in 2005 and was named an All-Star in 2007.

The Virginia native started work in broadcasting while she was still playing, becoming the first woman to work as a nationwide broadcast analyst for an NBA game in January 2007. In 2017, two years after retiring from the WNBA, Lawson was named the primary television game analyst for the Washington Wizards.

Lawson joined the Celtics as an assistant coach for the 2019-20 campaign and, according to Wiseman, is currently with the team in Orlando as the NBA season prepares to resume.

In addition to Lawson, Wiseman noted Rice head coach Tina Langley as a fellow finalist for the job, with Drake head coach Jennie Baranczyk also receiving "strong consideration."

"I am delighted to welcome Kara Lawson to Duke as our next women's basketball coach," Duke President Vincent Price said. "Kara has proven herself as a skilled coach and a committed mentor, whose passion for education is demonstrated by her service on her alma mater's board of trustees.  I am thrilled that she will be bringing these talents to Duke, and I know that she will support the continued success of our women's basketball student-athletes both on the court and off."

This is a developing story. Check back for more updates.


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