Just days after Duke bowed out of the Final Four, the Blue Devils saw their second major change on the coaching staff of this offseason.
Assistant coach Nolan Smith was officially introduced at Louisville as assistant coach Monday, per release. It was previously reported that he notified the program April 4 he would be leaving Duke to accept the associate head coaching job with the Cardinals under head coach Kenny Payne, per ESPN's Marc Spears.
Smith, who had been on the Duke coaching staff since 2016, was promoted to the assistant coach position in April 2021. The Louisville-born Smith departs for where his father Derek played and won a national championship in 1980.
Smith’s father died tragically of a heart attack in 1996 at the age of 34, and his ties to Louisville evidently remain strong.
"This is an incredible opportunity for Nolan to return to Louisville and continue his father's extraordinary legacy," head coach Jon Scheyer said April 11 via the the team's Twitter. "But for me, it is bittersweet. Nolan's contributions at Duke cannot be understated, and I will treasure the memories we have made together as friends, teammates, and coaches over the last 15 years. No matter where he is, he will always be an important member of the Brotherhood. Congratulations to Nolan, his wife, Cheyna and the rest of the Smith family."
The change comes as Duke head coach Mike Krzyzewski departs after 42 years at Duke and with Scheyer taking over. Meanwhile at Louisville, the newly-hired Payne looks to bring the Cardinals back to the national spotlight following the firing of Chris Mack and their 13-19 season.
Smith, otherwise known as "The People's Champ," was a standout at Duke from 2007-2011, improving year after year and winning a national championship alongside Scheyer in 2010. Smith was a consensus All-American and ACC Player of the Year his senior year, during which the Oak Hill product averaged 20.6 points, 4.5 rebounds and 5.1 assists, all career highs. He had a brief stint in the NBA with the Portland Trail Blazers, who drafted him 21st overall in 2011, before another short professional career in Europe.
He was hired to the Duke coaching staff as a special assistant in Feb. 2016, before being promoted to director of basketball operations and player development in 2018.
This story was updated following Smith's introduction at the University of Louisville Monday afternoon.
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Micah Hurewitz is a Trinity junior and a sports managing editor of The Chronicle's 118th volume.