Capel has been instrumental in luring talent away from Kentucky and other top schools in recent years, most notably the 2018 recruiting class that includes R.J. Barrett, Zion Williamson, and Cam Reddish. "He has a tremendous basketball pedigree and a strong track record of recruiting, developing and mentoring high-quality student-athletes", said Pittsburgh athletic director Heather Lyke in a statement. Before his stint at Duke, Capel was head coach at Oklahoma from 2006-11. At VCU, he led the Rams back to the NCAA Tournament in 2004 for the first time in almost a decade. After missing the NCAA Tournament for the past two seasons, Capel will likely shoot more for an NIT appearance I the next few years before making a leap-and-bounds type move towards the big dance.
"I look forward to our student-athletes, fans, donors and the Oakland Zoo getting to know Coach Capel and his family and watching this program flourish under his direction". He even filled in as head coach when Krzyzewski underwent back surgery during the 2016-17 season, posting a 4-3 record.
Now that Pitt has hired Jeff Capel, the question now turns to which players from last year's team will be returning?
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"My lifelong journey around the game of basketball has taught me to surround yourself with great people that you believe in", said Capel. "I look forward to building outstanding relationships with the leadership team at Pitt as well as with the numerous individuals who will help shape our program".
The Panthers are in full rebuilding mode after going 8-24 this season, including a 0-18 mark in the Atlantic Coast Conference.
Capel starred at Duke in the mid-1990s and got into coaching in 2000, beginning his career as an assistant for his father Jeff Capel II at Old Dominion. In all, he has coached 13 first-round NBA Draft picks. Now, Coach K will be challenged to continue that success without Capel.