A familiar face could be returning to the Kentucky sidelines next to head coach John Calipari — former assistant Orlando Antigua.
Antigua was a member of the Kentucky coaching staff during a successful run in the early-2010’s. With Antigua patrolling the sidelines and helping out in recruiting, the Wildcats won a national title and made it to three Final Fours.
The former Kentucky assistant left to become the head coach of South Florida in 2014, but struggled to hold onto that gig due to the violation of NCAA rules, which eventually led to his exit in 2017. From there, he joined Brad Underwood’s staff at Illinois, and has been a key contributor in recruiting. The Fighting Illini made the NCAA Tournament as a one-seed in 2020.
According to KSR’s Matt Jones, Antigua is heading back to Lexington. “Absent a dramatic, unexpected change, I expect Kentucky will be adding two new Assistant coaches very soon One is Orlando Antigua and the other is picked, but not finalized,” Jones tweeted Wednesday.
Kentucky: What would Orlando Antigua bring to the coaching staff?
Antigua brings familiarity to the Kentucky family, and a recruiting presence they’ve been missing. Last season, Kentucky’s freshman class struggled, breaking a trend of Calipari’s young talent coming through late in the season. The Cats didn’t make the NCAA Tournament last year.
On Antigua’s watch, Kentucky recruited and landed players like Anthony Davis, John Wall and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist. At most schools, a resume like that would among the best in program history. At Kentucky, it’s another Saturday.
Kentucky needs to get back on the right track after a disappointing season in Lexington, and bringing back an assistant the caliber of Antigua can speak volumes to the program’s expectations moving forward.
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