Louisville Cardinals to hire Kenny Payne as men’s basketball coach, sources say

The Louisville Cardinals will officially announce Kenny Payne as their next men’s basketball coach at a news conference on Friday morning, sources told ESPN.

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Payne has been viewed as the favorite since Louisville’s search to replace Chris Mack began in January. Interim Athletic director Josh Heird considered a number of other candidates throughout the search, including UCLA’s Mick Cronin and Baylor’s Scott Drew, but Payne remained the top candidate throughout the process, sources told ESPN.

A Mississippi native who played his college ball at Louisville, Payne won a national championship with the Cardinals in 1986 before being selected in the first round of the 1989 NBA draft.

He is known as one of the elite recruiters in college basketball.

Payne started his coaching career as an Assistant Coach at Oregon before spending a decade as an Assistant Coach under John Calipari at Kentucky. He consistently helped land elite recruiting classes, with Kentucky finishing with the No. 1 recruiting class in 2010, 2011, 2013, 2016 and 2020. Payne also developed a Reputation as someone who helped improve a number of post players during his time in Lexington.

Payne spent the past two seasons as an Assistant with the New York Knicks.

He will replace Mack, who mutually parted ways with Louisville in late January. The Cardinals were 11-9 at the time of Mack’s departure, and finished 13-19 this season. Under Mack, Louisville went to the NCAA tournament in 2019 and went 24-7 in 2020 before the NCAA tournament was canceled due to the coronavirus Pandemic.

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