Duke Contacted Tommy Amaker, Other Outside Candidates to Replace Coach K

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(Photo by Mitchell Layton/Getty Images)
Andrew Doughty Jul 28, 2021, 5:33 AM

The 2021-22 college basketball season will be the 42nd and final season as Duke head coach for Mike Krzyzewski, Stadium’s Jeff Goodman tweeted on Wednesday afternoon. In doing so, one of the most attractive jobs in American sports will open … kind of … for the first time since March 1980.

Entering his final season, Coach K leads all college basketball coaches – at any level – with 1,170 career wins. He’s just three wins shy of 1,110 at Duke and is only of only three active Division-I coaches with more than 700 wins (Jim Boeheim, Bob Huggins, and Cliff Ellis).

“The leading candidate to replace K is assistant and former Duke player Jon Scheyer,” Goodman added, reinforcing a long-held belief the former Duke All-American and national champion would succeed his former coach. Scheyer, 33, has only seven years of coaching experience, all at Duke, but has served as Krzyzewski’s right-hand man for the three years as associate head coach.

Krzyzewski is finalizing a search process with university officials to name Duke’s associate head coach Jon Scheyer as the coach-in-waiting, sources tell ESPN,

Adrian Wojnarowski tweeted minutes later, all but confirming it’s a done deal with Scheyer.

But before it was a done deal, Duke quietly conducted an outside search, which included a discussion with Harvard head coach Tommy Amaker, Wojnarowski added. A former Blue Devils’ point guard (1983-87) and assistant (1988-97), Amaker has 426 career wins over 24 seasons at three different programs – Seton Hall, Michigan, and Harvard – and has been casually floated as a potential successor to Coach K.

What other outsiders might’ve interested Duke?

Jeff Capel was long believed to be a potential successor before his departure for Pittsburgh in 2018. The North Carolina native and former Duke guard was run out of Oklahoma in 2011, just two years after a 30-win season ended in the Elite Eight. He spent seven years on Coach K’s staff as associate head coach and lead recruiter. While Capel, 46, has been underwhelming in three years cleaning up Kevin Stallings’ mess at Pittsburgh, he’s an experienced and trusted coach with strong ties.

It’s possible they called Chris Collins and Steve Wojciechowski, though highly unlikely either would’ve received serious consideration given their failures at Northwestern and Marquette, respectively. Bobby Hurley also might’ve been on the list, as could’ve Tony Bennett, Scott Drew, Mick Cronin, Nate Oats, and several other high-profile active college basketball coaches.

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About the Author

Andrew Doughty

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Andrew Doughty is a writer for BetMGM and host of High Motor by BetMGM, an NFL and college football podcast available on Apple Podcasts and everywhere else.

Andrew Doughty is a writer for BetMGM and host of High Motor by BetMGM, an NFL and college football podcast available on Apple Podcasts and everywhere else.