Joel Justus enters his first season as an assistant coach after serving two seasons on staff, first as the director of analytics and then as the special assistant to the head coach.
Justus joined the staff for the historic 2014-15 season as the director of analytics. Using Justus’ analytics, Kentucky’s players bought in to a two-platoon system that helped the Wildcats become one of the most efficient teams in the country, including the most dominant defensive team in recent history, as UK became the first team in college basketball history to start a season 38-0.
Justus analyzed player and team performance, utilizing various stats and data to help develop efficient strategies through video. He developed tools that streamlined the decision-making process of the coaching staff using advanced statistical modeling and analysis.
He also analyzed large data sets to aid the coaching staff’s scouting reports as well as postgame analysis. He assisted in day-to-day operations of the program, which included coordinating with NBA personnel while assisting in many areas of basketball operations.
2001-04: UNC Wilmington, player
2004-08: Elon, assistant coach
2008-12: Woodberry Forest School, head coach
2013-2014: Davidson Day High School, head coach
2015: Kentucky, director of analytics
2016: Kentucky, special assistant to the head coach
Present: Kentucky, assistant coach
After successfully integrating analytics into the daily culture of the program, he was elevated to special assistant to the head coach for the 2015-16 season. With his previous responsibilities remaining an active part of his duties, Justus’ role expanded to include scouting future opponents, providing strategies to help advance the program and assisting with special projects assigned by Calipari.
Justus came to UK after serving as the head coach at Davidson Day High School in Davidson, North Carolina. In both years at the helm, he guided the Patriots to the Elite Eight in the state tournament.
Prior to his time at Davidson Day, Justus served as the head boys’ basketball coach at Woodberry Forest School in Woodberry, Virginia, from 2008-12. During his time at Woodberry Forest, he guided his team to the Virginia Prep League regular-season championship in 2010 while advancing to the Virginia Prep League championship game in consecutive years, a first in more than two decades.
Justus has spent time in college basketball as an assistant coach at Elon University from 2004-08, where he helped guide the Phoenix to a Northern Division title in 2006 and the Southern Conference championship game in 2008.
A 2004 graduate of UNC Wilmington, Justus helped the Seahawks as a student-athlete capture two Colonial Athletic Association titles, made three postseason appearances (NIT in 2001 and NCAAs in 2002 and 2003) and was team captain his senior season.