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There’s nothing like coming home, and that holds true for Kenny Payne.
Today, the University of Louisville, his alma mater, announced Payne as their new head men’s basketball coach.
Payne played for the Cardinals from 1985 to 1989 under coach Denny Crum and scored 1,089 points in his career. He was also a freshman on the Cardinals’ 1986 national championship squad that was led by super frosh, “Never Nervous” Pervis Ellison.
Now he returns to the Cardinals on a six-year deal that runs through the 2027-28 season.
“I don’t have all the answers,” Payne said to the crowd after asking them to stand with him. “but I know what I have to take this job and try to help build the answers. I’m one person. I’m not standing here by myself again. I’m not standing here by myself.”
Payne spent 10 years with John Calipari at Kentucky, five at Oregon and the last two years with the Knicks.
Now the 55-year-old returns home as the program’s first Black head coach.
“To accept the job at the University of Louisville, it took a lot to get to this point,” Payne said. “I say, give me the worst-case scenario. Don’t give it your best [case]. I know what the best is. Give me the worst. I understand what that means.”
It’s good he recognizes the worst because he’s walking into a very tough situation.
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