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Payne named Razorback associate head coach


FAYETTEVILLE — Kenny Payne, who brings nearly 20 years of coaching experience on the collegiate and professional levels, was named associate head coach at the University of Arkansas, Razorback head coach John Calipari announced today.

A former Louisville Cardinal basketball great and first round NBA selection, Payne spent the past two seasons (2022-24) as head coach at his alma mater. He has additionally served as an assistant coach with the NBA's New York Knicks as well as spending 15 years as a college assistant or associate head coach with both the University of Oregon and the University of Kentucky.

Payne has been a part of successful teams while on staff with the Knicks, Wildcats and Ducks. The Knicks posted a 41-31 record in 2020-21, finishing fourth in NBA Eastern Conference. In his 10 years at Kentucky, he helped the Wildcats win the 2012 NCAA Championship, play for the 2014 NCAA Championship, advance to four Final Fours, reach a total of eight Sweet 16’s, win six SEC Tournament titles and had 41 players drafted including 31 first round selections. At Oregon, the Ducks won the 2007 PAC-10 Championship and went to two NCAA Tournaments, including an Elite 8 berth in 2007.

For his contributions, Payne was honored in the A STEP UP Assistant Coaches Hall of Fame Class of 2020 for his track record of success, outstanding and significant contributions to the game, as well as his high character, integrity and respect among colleagues.

Payne, who served as associate head coach at Kentucky from 2014-20, played a key role in assembling 11 impressive recruiting classes while at Kentucky, all of which were among the nation’s top three and five that were recognized as the No. 1 class, plus he helped gather a top 20 class at Oregon. As head coach at Louisville, his 2023 recruiting class was ranked in the top six nationally by both Rivals and 247Sports.

He has been nationally recognized for player development. In Payne’s 10 years at Kentucky, the Wildcats had a player selected in the NBA Draft lottery and had multiple players picked in the first round in every year, including two overall No. 1 selections. In addition, three Oregon players were selected in the first and second rounds of the NBA Draft in Payne’s time there.

As a student-athlete at UofL, Payne scored 1,083 points in his four years (1985-86), connecting on 40.1 percent of his career three-point goals (85-of-212, fourth-highest in UofL history). He was a member of Louisville’s 1986 NCAA Championship team as a freshman and during his collegiate career, Louisville participated in three NCAA Sweet 16’s and won three Metro Conference championships and three Metro tournament titles while posting a combined 98-41 record.

As a senior playing under Hall of Fame Coach Denny Crum, Payne averaged 14.5 points and 5.7 rebounds and was named to the All-Metro Conference second team as Louisville posted a 24-9 record and reached the NCAA Sweet 16.

He was selected in the first round of the 1989 NBA Draft with the 19th overall pick by the Philadelphia 76ers, where he played four seasons (1989-93). He continued to play professional basketball abroad and in the Continental Basketball Association until 2000, with stops at the CBA Tri-Cities (Washington) and with teams in Italy, Japan, Brazil, the Philippines, Cypress, China, Argentina and Australia.

Payne earned a Bachelor of Science degree in sport administration from Louisville in 2003.

He and his wife, Michelle, have two children: Alexis and Alexander (Zan), who played on the UofL basketball team.