Kentucky head coach Kyra Elzy directs her players in a...

Kentucky head coach Kyra Elzy directs her players in a NCAA college basketball game against Tennessee, March 5, 2022, in Nashville, Tenn. On Monday, June 10, 2024, Duke women's basketball coach Kara Lawson hired Elzy as an assistant, reuniting the former Tennessee teammates on the Blue Devils’ staff. Credit: AP/Mark Humphrey

DURHAM, N.C. — Duke women's basketball coach Kara Lawson on Monday hired former Kentucky head coach Kyra Elzy as an assistant, reuniting the former Tennessee teammates on the Blue Devils’ staff.

Lawson called the hiring a “big day” for Duke basketball in a statement that noted Elzy’s strong national reputation in recruiting and developing players such as three-time first team All-American Rhyne Howard, the No. 1 overall selection of the 2022 WNBA draft by the Atlanta Dream. The Blue Devils coach also praised Elzy’s integrity, tactical skills and passion, which she believes will elevate the program.

“She is one of the best relationship builders I’ve been around,” Lawson said of Elzy. “She’s been an elite player and coach. I look forward to pursuing championships together again.”

Elzy said she is “elated beyond belief” to join Duke and added, “It is also a tremendous privilege to work with my sister and former teammate.”

Lawson and Elzy were Tennessee teammates from 1999-2001 under legendary coach Pat Summitt, winning the SEC Tournament in 2000 and reaching the NCAA title game before falling to UConn.

Elzy coached Kentucky to a 64-62 upset of top-seeded South Carolina to win the 2022 Southeastern Conference Tournament and earn a second consecutive NCAA Tournament appearance. She was 61-60 over four seasons as Wildcats coach before being fired in March after consecutive losing seasons. Elzy had also worked as a Kentucky assistant and associate coach during two stints totaling 12 years with the program.

Elzy also worked 2012-16 in the same capacities at her alma mater in addition to stops at Western Kentucky and Kansas.

Duke head coach Kara Lawson works the sideline against Ohio...

Duke head coach Kara Lawson works the sideline against Ohio State, March 24, 2024, in Columbus, Ohio. On Monday, June 10, 2024, Lawson hired former Kentucky head coach Kyra Elzy as an assistant, reuniting the former Tennessee teammates on the Blue Devils’ staff. Credit: AP/Aaron Doster

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