Duke men’s basketball head coach Jon Scheyer announced the hiring of former Blue Devil Will Avery as assistant coach.
Avery, who starred at Duke from 1997 to 1999, has spent the last four seasons assisting with various aspects of the program while completing his undergraduate degree in African American studies. He left Duke after his sophomore year as the 14th overall pick by Minnesota in the 1999 NBA Draft.
“The opportunity to have Will Avery here is incredible for us,” said Scheyer. “He understands our program at its highest level. As an NBA Lottery pick in 1999, he knows the goals of our current players and achieved many himself. He has been a tremendous asset for our staff over the last several years after returning to Duke to complete his undergraduate degree – and what a testament to return 20 years later and achieve that. I’m thrilled for Will and his family and excited to have him as an assistant coach.”
The hire comes after new NCAA rules went into effect July 1 that included the addition of two full-time on-court coaching positions in men’s basketball. Duke’s search to replace assistant coach Amile Jefferson, who was hired by the Boston Celtics as an assistant coach, is still on going.
“I’m extremely honored and excited to be a part of Coach Scheyer’s staff,” said Avery. “Duke, our fans, and the city of Durham has held a special place in my heart since I was a teenager. Duke is family, and I feel at home. I want to thank Coach K for giving me a role in the basketball program four years ago and I’m very grateful for Coach Scheyer giving me the opportunity to begin my coaching career at Duke.”
The second-team All-ACC pick and third-team Parade All-American in 1999, Avery led the Blue Devils to the national championship game after a 37-2 record that included both the ACC regular season and tournament championships. In two seasons at Duke, where he teamed with now associate head coach Chris Carrawell, Avery played in 74 games and averaged 11.9 points, 3.8 assists and shot .463 from the field.
This marks the first full-time college coaching position for the Augusta, Ga.-native, who played 142 career NBA games for the Timberwolves and later played professionally overseas. Following his retirement from pro basketball in 2012, Avery returned to his hometown and established the Will Avery Basketball Academy where he trained and mentored youth basketball players.
Avery was one of a then-school record four first-round draft picks in 1999, joining No. 1 overall pick Elton Brand, No. 11 pick Trajan Langdon and No. 13 pick Corey Maggette. The record was later tied during the 2022 draft. Brand, Maggette and Avery were the first Mike Krzyzewski-coached players to leave Duke early for the NBA.