ATLANTA – On Tuesday when Pittsburgh announced its hiring of Duke associate head coach Jeff Capel as the school’s next head basketball coach Duke’s 2018 recruits were finishing up practice for the McDonald’s All American Game in Atlanta.
“When I heard I wasn’t surprised because he’s a great coach,” Apple Valley (Minn.) point guard Tre Jones said. “I’m so happy for him. Every assistant wants to be a head coach so for him to get that chance was big for him. I know he’s gonna turn that program around.”
Capel has been at Duke for the last seven seasons and is responsible for most of the Blue Devils’ most stellar recruiting classes in that time.
Jones said Capel sent each recruit a text telling them how proud he was to have gotten to know them over the years and reminded them to be ready to work when they get on campus.
Westtown School (West Chester, Penn.) shooting guard Cam Reddish said that even though Capel is leaving Duke he’s still part of the Duke family.
“It’s all love with all of us,” Reddish said. “He’s just going off to do bigger things so that’s great. He’s a phenomenal coach and a phenomenal person and he’ll get a lot of great players to come there so watch out for Pitt. He’ll turn things around easily there.”
He’ll certainly have his work cut out for him.
Capel replaces Kevin Stallings, who was fired earlier this month after posting a 24-41 record in two seasons with the Panthers.
“He’s the right man for the job,” Jones said of Capel. “We all fully support his decision. I think it’ll definitely be more fun playing them next year. We might have to mess with him a little during the game.”
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