Duke closing in on hiring Kara Lawson as head coach

Decorated player, Celtics assistant set to take on new role

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Kara Lawson, the superb former Tennessee Lady Vols guard and Boston Celtics assistant coach, is expected to be named the next head coach at Duke University.

Sources told The Next that Lawson is the top candidate for the job and an official announcement could be made as soon as Friday. Multiple reports, including those from the Raleigh News & Observer and the Boston Globe, said that Lawson’s deal with Duke is close to being finalized.

Former Duke player and Sacramento Kings development coach Lindsey Harding and Rice head coach Tina Langley were also interviewed and considered for the job, sources told The Next.

One former Blue Devils player told The Next that tapping Lawson is a “great hire” by Duke. Blue Devils AD Kevin White moved quickly to replace former head coach Joanne P. McCallie, who resigned last week with a year left on her contract over “uncertainty” if it would be renewed.

McCallie’s teams had missed the NCAA tournament in two of the last five seasons and she had secured just one ESPN Top 100 recruit out of the 2020, 2021 and 2022 classes. According to a report from ESPN’s Mechelle Voepel, Duke ruled out the possibility of rehiring McCallie’s predecessor Gail Goestenkors. This past week, sources inside and outside of the Duke program told All in the Game that Duke wouldn’t be hiring a man, that many believed they would hire a Black woman and that an announcement could come within a week.

Lawson would be the third Black woman head coach in the ACC, joining Notre Dame’s Niele Ivey and Virginia’s Tina Thompson.

A native of Alexandria, Virginia, Lawson played at Tennessee from 1999 to 2003 under the legendary Pat Summit and is regarded as one of the historic program’s greatest players. She led the Lady Vols to four SEC titles and three Final Fours. As a senior, she was an All-American and claimed the Naismith Award. She is the sixth all-time leading scorer in program history.

Lawson played in the pros from 2003 through 2015 with the Sacramento Monarchs, Connecticut Sun and Washington Mystics. She won a WNBA title in 2005, was an All-Star in 2007 and won an Olympic gold medal in 2008. After a stint in broadcasting, Brad Stevens hires her onto his staff with the Celtics in the summer of 2019.

Duke finished this last season with an 18-12 overall record.