The Kentucky men’s basketball coaching staff has undergone an offseason transformation with a familiar face in Orlando Antigua returning to the UK bench and another top assistant from Illinois in Ronald “Chin” Coleman coming onboard.
Antigua, a key assistant in the first five seasons of the John Calipari era at Kentucky, has rejoined the program as associate coach. Coleman is also headed to Lexington via Illinois after four seasons with the Illini and will be an assistant coach.
Contracts will be finalized pending university completion of pre-employment screenings.
Antigua and Coleman will occupy two of the three on-court assistant coaching positions on the 2021-22 staff. Jai Lucas will remain in the other assistant coaching position and Bruiser Flint will be elevated to associate to the head coach. Both Lucas and Flint are entering their second seasons at Kentucky.
“I am really excited to have Orlando back,” UK head coach John Calipari said. “I think everyone knows what we were able to do with Orlando as a part of our staff going to the Sweet Sixteen in our final season at Memphis and making three Final Fours with a national title at Kentucky in his five seasons. But aside from our team success, he brings an uplifting spirit and a work ethic that helps create relationships that are so needed in college basketball within your own team and on the recruiting trail. All of that starts within our staff, and I am excited that he wanted to be back here with us to get our program back to where we know it needs to be.”
“Ron ‘Chin’ Coleman is in the same mold as Orlando,” Calipari said. “You are talking about another upbeat, positive coach who is going to bring the spirit that has always been a part of our culture. He has earned his stripes through hard work and building relationships around the country. Chin is a grinder, someone who relishes that time in the gym with the kids to help add value to your current players, yet he never takes his eyes off the lifeline of our program, which is recruiting.
“I cannot wait to get both of these guys in the office and on the court with Jai (Lucas) and Bruiser (Flint) and get to work.”
Antigua returns to Lexington for his second stint with the Wildcats after seven seasons away, first as a head coach with South Florida and then as an assistant with Illinois.
“I want to thank Josh Whitman, Coach (Brad) Underwood and everyone at Illinois for an incredible four years in Champaign,” Antigua said. “We created some unforgettable memories and took the program to new heights that we can all be proud of. I will never forget my time at Illinois and I want to thank everyone who welcomed my family and I to a wonderful place. With that said, I am excited to be headed back to Lexington. This game has blessed me with so many amazing opportunities, but the chance to work at Kentucky again, a program where we built a lot of special memories, is one I am grateful for. Thank you to Mitch Barnhart and Coach Cal, one of my mentors, for the opportunity. I am looking forward to getting my feet on the ground in Lexington and getting this going again. As we have always done it, this will be about players first, and I can’t wait to work with our young men who represent the University of Kentucky.”
Coleman has 10 seasons of college coaching experience with time spent at Illinois, UIC, Bradley, Nebraska and Colorado State.
“We must accept the end of something in order to begin something new, special and different,” Coleman said.” To that end, I want to thank everyone at Illinois for the opportunity I was afforded the last four years. It was truly an honor, and I am proud of the success we achieved together. It takes courage to grow and become who you really are, and having the opportunity to coach at the University of Kentucky, work for John Calipari and be a member of Big Blue Nation is a dream come true. This is a different kind of place, one that coaches and players hope to one day be a part of. I am blessed to live that dream.”
The two openings were created last month when former associate to the head coach Tony Barbee became the head coach at Central Michigan and former assistant coach Joel Justus accepted an offer to serve as the lead assistant with Arizona State.