DURHAM, N.C. – Duke head coach Mike Krzyzewski announced two staff changes on Sunday as former Blue Devil Jeff Capel joins the staff as an assistant coach and Nate James is named special assistant. Capel returns to Duke after spending the previous nine years as the head coach at Virginia Commonwealth (2002-06) and Oklahoma (2006-11), while James has been an assistant coach at Duke for the past three seasons.
“We are excited to have Jeff joining our staff,” said Krzyzewski. “He is an outstanding coach and will be a great fit in our program. Jeff has been a highly successful head coach at the Division I level and he will continue that here at Duke. Adding a coach of his caliber will make everyone in our program better.”
Capel owns a 175-110 record as a head coach with three NCAA Tournament appearances, including a trip to the Elite Eight in 2008 with Oklahoma. He began his coaching career as an assistant coach under his father, Jeff Capel II, at Old Dominion University for the 2000–2001 season. In 2001, he joined the coaching staff at Virginia Commonwealth as an assistant and was promoted to head coach of the Rams for the 2002–2003 season—making him, at the time, the youngest head coach in Division I men’s college basketball (27 years old). After compiling a 79-41 record and four straight winning seasons at VCU, Capel became the head coach at Oklahoma prior to the 2006-07 season. He led the Sooners to a 96-69 record overall with two NCAA Tournament trips (2008 & 2009) and was a major factor in the recruitment and development of 2009 National Player of the Year Blake Griffin. Griffin would go on to become the first player from Oklahoma to be selected No. 1 in the NBA Draft, the 2011 NBA Rookie of the Year and the 2011 NBA Slam Dunk champion.
During his successful playing career as a Blue Devil, Capel racked up 1,601 points, 433 assists and 220 three-point field goals. He finished his career among Duke’s all-time Top 10 in minutes played, three-point field goal percentage, three-point field goals and assists. He was a four-year starter for the Blue Devils helping the team to an 83-46 record and a trip to the 1994 NCAA Championship game. On February 2, 1995 in the regular season game played at home against North Carolina, with Duke trailing 95–92 at the end of the first overtime, Capel hit a running 40-foot shot at the buzzer which sent the game into double-overtime. Although Duke lost the game 102–100, Capel’s shot was hailed as one of the most memorable plays in Duke basketball history and it was nominated for an ESPY Award for College Basketball Play of the Year.
Following his graduation from Duke, Capel played professional basketball for two years in France and the CBA. Capel was also drafted in 1997 by the Raleigh Cougars of the USBL.
Capel, a native of Fayetteville, N.C., led South View High School to the 1993 state championship defeating South Mecklenburg, 73–72, with a last second lay-up. He also set school career records in points (2,066), rebounds (668), and assists (663).
As an assistant coach for the past three years, James has helped the Blue Devils to a 95-17 record with three ACC Tournament titles and the 2010 NCAA Championship. Although his new role will not include on-court coaching, he will continue to assist the staff in developing game strategies, breaking down game film and planning practices and contributing in staff meetings.
“Nate has done a very good job with us as an assistant coach and he will continue to be a huge asset to our program in his new role,” said Krzyzewski. “He has a bright future ahead of him and this opportunity will help him continue to grow and develop.”
James, a two-time team captain, played on a pair of Final Four teams, including Duke’s 2001 national championship squad. As a senior, he earned All-ACC and ACC All-Defensive Team honors, while averaging 12.3 points, 5.2 rebounds and 1.6 steals per game for the Blue Devils. James finished his playing career with 1,116 points, 500 rebounds and 147 steals, while helping Duke to a 117-18 (.867) record.
The Duke basketball staff now features four former players that were team captains during their respective careers in Durham. The foursome of Steve Wojciechowski, Chris Collins, Jeff Capel and Nate James combined to score 4,495 points and win 375 games as players at Duke.
“It is a special thing to have four former players and team captains on my staff,” said Krzyzewski. “All four are great coaches and will work well together to give Duke the best coaching staff in the country.”
2009 Interview with Capel from BDN archives