Former Duke Star Thinks There's A 'Legit Chance' Coach K Returns To Duke

In the modern day of sports, announcing your retirement is hardly a 100% guarantee that you're done for good. See Brett Favre and Tom Brady as evidence.

But for former Duke men's basketball head coach Mike Krzyzewski, 75, riding off into the sunset appeared to be set in stone. However, with Nolan Smith, Duke's top assistant and recruiting ace, leaving to become the associate head coach at Louisville, former Blue Devils star Jay Williams sees a path for Krzyzewski to return for a 43rd season.

“I don’t know this for a fact — this is sheer speculation on my part — but there’s a lot of moving parts here,” Williams said Tuesday on ESPN Radio’s Keyshawn, JWill & Max. “First off, I’m really happy for Nolan Smith. He deserves to be an associate head coach. To go back to where his father played — he lost his father when he was younger.

"... I love that for Kenny Payne, who was an assistant coach with the Knicks and worked under John Calipari at Kentucky, now the head coach of Louisville. Louisville is about to be a crazy program for bringing Nolan Smith on as associate head coach."

Williams added that Duke losing Smith leaves a huge absence in the program for first-year head coach Jon Scheyer.

“But I think it leaves a huge gap at Duke," Williams said. "And the question is, who fills that void from a recruiting perspective? And it leads me to think, which I’ve been thinking a lot about since I heard this news (Monday). Does Coach K come back for another season? One more final season?"

The Blue Devils currently hold the No. 1 overall recruiting class in 2022, with four five-star prospects set to make their way to Durham, per 247Sports. Williams said he wouldn't be shocked if Smith attempted to poach a few Duke recruits over to play for the Cardinals.

How can Duke stop that from happening? For Williams, it's all in the hands of Coach K.

“Here’s why I give it a legit chance,” Williams said. “If you’re Nolan Smith and you have a great relationship with all these players, you’re in the (same) conference. You’re at Louisville. You’re picking up the phone and . It weakens the hold of Duke. If you’re Coach K, how do you strengthen that hold? You’re coming back.”

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Nick Geddes is a 2021 graduate of the University of Central Florida with a bachelor’s degree in Journalism. A life-long sports enthusiast, Nick shares a passion for sports writing and is proud to represent OutKick.