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Nolan Smith will be Kenny Payne’s associate head coach at Louisville

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The first major piece of Payne’s first Cardinal staff is now in place.

Syracuse v Duke Photo by Lance King/Getty Images

As has been widely rumored for weeks, Nolan Smith will be leaving the Duke basketball program to accept a position on Kenny Payne’s first coaching staff at Louisville.

According to ESPN’s Mark Spears, that position at U of L will be associate head coach.

Smith is the son of Derek Smith, who starred at Louisville from 1978-1982 before embarking on an 8-year NBA career. He then spent two seasons as an assistant coach for the Washington Bullets, a job he still held when he died suddenly of a heart attack in 1996.

Nolan Smith was born in Louisville and developed into one of the most highly sought-after players in the recruiting class of 2007. He ultimately picked Duke over U of L, and helped lead the Blue Devils to the 2010 national champipnship.

After a four-year professional career that included a two-season run with the Portland Trailblazers, Smith returned to Durham to begin his coaching career. After stints as special assistant and director of basketball operations, Smith spent this past season as one of Mike Krzyzewski’s three primary assistants.

The 33-year-old Smith is regarded as one of the “rising stars” in the college basketball coaching world, and had been the primary recruiter on several of the 2022 and 2023 prospects Duke had been in on.

Very, very happy about this hire. Let’s get this thing going.