In a very surprising move last week, the Duke Blue Devils hired former player and former VCU/Oklahoma head coach Jeff Capel as an assistant coach. The immediate take on this is that it’s a strong win-win for both sides. Capel, who was fired from Oklahoma after a really tough year on the court last year and amidst an NCAA Investigation into the recruitment if Tiny Gallon, received no interest from any schools looking for a head coach. Five years ago he was one of the hottest names if not the hottest name amongst up-and-coming coaches after taking VCU to the NCAA tournament, so a stint rehabbing his rep under the tutelage of one of the greatest coaches of all time could be just what the doctor ordered. On the Duke side, the Devils get an assistant coach who not only has 9 years of head coaching experience at the D-1 level, but a guy who is widely regarded as one of the better recruiters in the game today. Already, there is a buzz in Duke nation about the potential impact of the Capel hire on the recruitment of Julius Randle, the #1 player in the class of 2013, who had already built a strong relationship with Capel at Oklahoma, and models his game after Blake Griffin.
The hire did have an immediate domino effect on the Duke coaching staff with Nate James being reassigned as a Special Assistant coach, but as Capel eloquently states in this fantastic interview with Dan Wiederer, Nate is the ultimate team player and will humbly do what’s best for the team, even if it means taking a temporarily “reduced” role. The chances are that both he and Chris Carrawell, who has taken on a role as a special assistant for the women’s team, won’t have to wait overly long to reclaim at least their former roles with the men’s team, as the chances of Capel ( or Wojo or Collins) moving to a head coaching role elsewhere within the next several years are fairly good.