Duke assistant Smith moves into key role on Krzyzewski's bench

Mark Armstrong Image
Thursday, April 15, 2021
Nolan Smith ready for increased role at Duke
With Nate James leaving for the head job at Austin Peay Nolan Smith has gotten the bump up to assistant coach for Duke basketball.

DURHAM, N.C. (WTVD) -- Nolan Smith, aka The People's Champ, has been a fixture at Duke and in the Durham community since his playing days. Now, with Nate James leaving for the head job at Austin Peay, Smith has gotten the bump up to assistant coach.

"My master plan is to continue to bless others. That's my master plan," he said Thursday.

Smith is ready. He's been waiting for this job, assured by Mike Krzyzewski that his time was coming.

"I'm fearless, you know, I'm fearless because I'm not going to hold back what a player needs to hear in order to make them be great," Smith said.

Beyond basketball, Smith is a force in the Bull City community. A voice at the forefront of the racial justice movement -- and that will not change.

"Coach and I continue to talk about the work that I do outside of Duke and in the Durham community," Smith said. "He always says 'be you, son, and continue to do that,' so, that work will definitely not stop."

Star quality or not, Nolan knows there's a pecking order on the bench.

"When they give me the first scout of the season, which is the first game that will be kind of like 'here, you get that scout, I've got the Carolina scout,' they'll have their ways where they put me in my place," Smith laughed.

Now that he'll be an active, full-time recruiter, Smith said there's one major upgrade he needs to make to his wardrobe.

"First thing I'm going to have to do is step up my shoe game," Smith said. "Look, I'm telling you that's a big thing -- these recruits, they want to see your shoe game."