Duke Men’s Basketball Head Coach Mike Krzyzewski has announced the promotion of Nolan Smith to assistant coach. Smith, a national championship player for the Blue Devils on the 2010 squad, has served as a member of the basketball staff since 2016.
Smith’s promotion comes following the departure of Associate Head Coach Nate James to Austin Peay State University as its head coach.
“Nolan is a rising star,” said Krzyzewski. “To get him on the court with our players on a day-to-day basis will mean so much to our program. Our players will benefit immensely from his enthusiasm to teach, but also the fact that he’s young enough, he can show them. He can still play. We’re very fortunate that he and his wife Cheyna are so involved in our program and our community. He is a national champion and has been such a great member of my staff as director of basketball operations, but he’s done so much more for our school and our community. Nolan has always used his platform for the good of others. We are so lucky to have him and Durham is even luckier. The staff I’m fortunate to have of Jon Scheyer, Chris Carrawell and now Nolan Smith is a truly special one.”
Smith joined the men’s basketball staff in February 2016 and spent two seasons as the team’s special assistant before his promotion to director of basketball operations and player development in March 2018.
“The game of basketball has been a blessing in my life, and so has Coach K and Duke University,” said Smith. “Duke Basketball has meant the world to my family and me and I’m honored and humbled to be named an assistant coach. So many coaches, including Coach K, have meant so much to me and made such a positive impact on my life. I can’t wait to help teach and develop the young Brotherhood stars and hopefully have a similar impact on them. I look forward to working with and learning from the great staff that we have at Duke with Jon and Chris and I can’t wait to get started.”
Duke’s current coaching staff of Smith, Scheyer and Carrawell have all served as Duke captains, while Krzyzewski’s assistants have been exclusively former Duke players since the 1998-99 season.
A consensus first-team All-American and ACC Player of the Year in 2011, Smith helped lead Duke to three consecutive ACC championships (2009-11) and the 2010 NCAA title during his tenure as a student-athlete.
He was a two-time All-ACC selection (2010-11) and named ACC Tournament MVP as a senior in 2011. Smith led the ACC in scoring in his final season and his 764 points that year still rank as the ninth-best total in program history.
In helping propel Duke to its fourth national championship in 2010, Smith was named Most Outstanding Player at the NCAA South Regional in Houston and earned a place on the All-Final Four Team after the Blue Devils cut down the nets in Indianapolis.
The Upper Marlboro, Md., native currently ranks 17th on Duke’s career scoring chart, having amassed 1,911 points from 2008-11. He played in 121 victories in a Duke uniform to rank fifth in program history and sixth in ACC history, and his 143 games played are tied for the eighth-most in Duke annals. He served as a team captain as a senior in 2011.
During his tenure as a student-athlete, Duke went 65-2 (.970) at Cameron Indoor Stadium to set program records for both home wins and winning percentage in a four-year period.
Following his graduation, Smith was selected by the Portland Trail Blazers with the 21st overall pick in the 2011 NBA Draft.
In the summer of 2016, Smith was named the North Carolina state ambassador for Teen Cancer America. TCA is an organization designed to help bridge the gap between pediatric and adult oncology care. Smith serves as an ambassador alongside celebrities such as The Band Perry, Eddie Vedder and Joan Jett for the organization that was founded by rock icons Roger Daltrey and Pete Townshend of The Who.
In addition to his work with TCA, Smith continues to use his platform in basketball for the benefit of others. Active for quite some time in the Durham community in raising awareness of social justice issues, Smith was named a George H.W. Bush Points of Light Inspiration honoree in the summer of 2020. He was also recognized as the Tar Heel of Month in October 2020 by the Raleigh News & Observer, awarded to a citizen that has made significant contributions to North Carolina and the region.
In July 2018, Smith was one of 11 from Division I basketball named to the Teamworks Basketball Leadership Committee. The committee, comprised of the most forward-thinking Teamworks’ partners from around the country, will converge to help shape the future of athlete engagement and drive the development of best practices throughout the athletics industry.
Smith and his wife Cheyna have a young daughter, Camryn, and a young son, Derek.