Add one more to the list of Mike Krzyzewski’s assistants who are now head coaches.
After several days of buzz pertaining to whether or not associate head coach Nate James was leaving Duke, Austin Peay announced Friday afternoon that it had hired the 43-year-old as its next head coach. The News and Observer’s Steve Wiseman was the first to report the news Thursday afternoon.
"I'm extremely excited and honored to be the 13th head men's basketball coach at Austin Peay State University," James said in a Duke release. "To have the opportunity to lead my own program, be part of the amazing vision for a place like APSU and serve a community that embraces its university and student-athletes has been a dream of mine for quite some time. It is exactly what every coach wishes for. I will work endlessly to build a basketball culture with the type of culture that every player, alum, donor and fan will always be proud of. This is an amazing day to be a Gov! Let's Go Peay!"
James first joined the Blue Devils' staff before the 2007-08 campaign, and was appointed to his most recent position after the 2017-18 season.
James will not be the only former Blue Devil at Austin Peay next season, as Duke's former assistant athletic director Gerald Harrison has been the athletic director at Austin Peay since 2018.
During James’ coaching days in Durham, he developed a knack for player development, with his most recent achievement being his work with freshman center Mark Williams during the 2020-21 season. By the end of the season, Williams was a legitimate force in the paint on both ends of the floor.
"I've known Nate since he was 18 years old, and he's been on our campus for nearly 20 years," Krzyzewski said in the release. "I've seen him grow from being a high school center, to becoming one of the most selfless leaders in Duke Basketball history to being an outstanding assistant coach. Austin Peay is getting a remarkable man, who is married to a remarkable woman, Bobbi. I could not be happier for them and their family, as I am for Austin Peay. Nate is a leader, a terrific worker and a trustworthy friend. You can count on anything that he says. He earned the respect of his teammates as one of the captains of our 2001 national championship team, and has since brought that championship mentality to our coaching staff. I will miss Nate immensely. Austin Peay has one of the great people in college athletics in Gerald Harrison as its director of athletics and he has made an amazing hire. I'm looking forward to seeing the success they'll have together."
James may be the only coach departing as of now, but several Duke players have entered the transfer portal in recent days, so James may have a familiar face with him at Austin Peay. Per The New York Times' Adam Zagoria, Austin Peay reached out to senior guard Jordan Goldwire after he announced his transfer plans, although where Austin Peay ranks on Goldwire’s list is unclear.
Prior to his time as a Duke coach, James played for the Blue Devils from 1996-01, and helped Duke to its third national championship in the 2000-01 season.
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Jake Piazza is a Trinity junior and sports editor of The Chronicle's 117th volume.