Former Kentucky head coach Kyra Elzy finds new job as an assistant in the ACC

Former head Kentucky head coach Kyra Elzy is moving to the ACC.

Duke women’s basketball head coach Kara Lawson announced on Monday morning that Elzy, who was fired upon the conclusion of the 2023-24 season after four years leading the Wildcats, will be joining her staff as an assistant coach for the Blue Devils.

“This is a big day for Duke Basketball,” Lawson said in a press release. “We are thrilled to welcome Kyra Elzy to The Sisterhood! She will immediately raise the level in our program. Kyra brings great integrity, tactical ability and passion to Durham. She is one of the best relationship builders I’ve been around. She’s been an elite player and coach. I look forward to pursuing championships together again!”

Elzy, a Kentucky native and 3,000-plus-point scorer at Oldham County, first started her coaching career as an assistant at Western Kentucky from 2002-04. She went on to hold assistant coaching positions at Kansas, Kentucky and Tennessee, including associate head coaching positions under Holly Warlick in Knoxville (2015-16) and Matthew Mitchell in Lexington (2010-12, 2016-20) prior to her promotion to interim head coach and subsequent removal of that interim tag in 2020. As a head coach, Elzy holds an overall record of 61-60.

“I am elated beyond belief to join the Duke family and the incredible staff that Coach Lawson has assembled,” Elzy said, according to a news release by the school. “Duke has a standard of excellence and competes at the highest level, and I look forward to being a part of this rich tradition.”

The Wildcats’ biggest success under Elzy came in the 2022 Southeastern Conference Tournament, during which UK defeated eventual national champion South Carolina to hoist its first SEC Tournament trophy since 1982.

Elzy issued her official goodbye to Big Blue Nation mid-March via social media, prior to the hiring of new UK head coach Kenny Brooks:

“As I embark on a new chapter in my life, I would be remiss not to reflect upon and be thankful for my journey. As I’ve had time to reflect, I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that Kentucky was the stop that helped me grow as a woman and as a coach. Through the triumphs and defeats, I gave Kentucky all of me!

“I’ll forever be grateful for the opportunity to be the head coach at UK. I’m a proud Kentucky girl through and through, and this place and all of the people and players will always hold a special place in my heart. …

“Thank you Big Blue Nation for your love and support for this Kentucky girl. This chapter of my life is closing but a new one awaits.”

Elzy and Lawson both played for Hall of Fame head coach Pat Summitt at the University of Tennessee, overlapping for two seasons (1999-01). Elzy earned two national championships with the Lady Vols, and was the first player in program history to graduate with a master’s degree while still on the roster.

Since Lawson’s hiring in 2020, Duke women’s basketball has built an overall record of 68-33 (32-23 ACC) and reached the NCAA Tournament twice, including a 22-12 (11-7) record and a Sweet 16 berth during the 2023-24 campaign.

The Blue Devils’ 2024 signing class includes three top-100 prospects out of the high school ranks — 6-2 forward Toby Fournier (No. 10), 6-4 forward Arianna Roberson (No. 17) and 6-2 wing Janessa Cotton (No. 80). Duke also returns leading scorers Reigan Richardson, Taina Mair, Oluchi Okananwa and Ashlon Jackson, and signed transfer wing Riley Nelson (Maryland).

Elzy is the latest member of last season’s UK program to move to the ACC; former assistant coach Jen Hoover and coaching video coordinator Jerod McCullen have both been hired on in equivalent positions at Virginia Tech, while former players Jordy Griggs (Clemson), Amiya Jenkins (Pitt) and Brooklynn Miles (Pitt) have each announced transfer destinations within the conference.

Former Kentucky head coach Kyra Elzy has been hired as an assistant at Duke. She was 61-60 while leading the Wildcats.
Former Kentucky head coach Kyra Elzy has been hired as an assistant at Duke. She was 61-60 while leading the Wildcats.

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