Duke is in talks with Boston Celtics assistant coach and former WNBA All-Star Kara Lawson to lead its women’s basketball program, a person familiar with the situation said Friday.

The person spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because the school hasn’t commented publicly on its search.

The 39-year-old Lawson has become the leading candidate to replace Joanne P. McCallie, who announced last week she wouldn’t return for a 14th season as she entered the final year of her contract.

A former Tennessee guard under Pat Summitt, Lawson played in the WNBA from 2003-15 and won the 2005 championship with Sacramento. She also was part of the U.S. Olympic team that won a gold medal in Beijing in 2008. She had also worked as a TV commentator for NBA and college basketball games before the Celtics hired her in June 2019.

McCallie led the Blue Devils to a 330-107 record in her 13 seasons and was a three-time league coach of the year. Her teams won at least a share of the regular-season title four times and three ACC Tournament titles while also making 10 trips to the NCAA Tournament, including four straight trips to the Elite Eight from 2010-13.

But that job grew more challenging with the arrival of national powers Notre Dame (2013) and Louisville (2014) to the ACC. Duke has failed to finish in the top three of the league regular-season race in four of the past seven years and hasn’t won a league title in that span.


McCallie had taken over from Gail Goestenkors, who put together seven straight 30-win seasons before leaving for Texas in 2007.


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