LEXINGTON, Ky. (KT) — Kenny Payne has a decision to make regarding his future plans.
The University of Kentucky associate head coach has been approached by the New York Knicks to fill a similar role under newly hired coach Tom Thibodeau.
“All I can say is it’s not an easy decision,” Payne told the Lexington Herald-Leader. “And, hopefully, it gets resolved one way or the other here soon.”
Payne said the Knicks “reached to coach Cal (John Calipari) for permission to talk to me” and added, “that’s the most I can say.”
The former University of Louisville standout, who has been a part of Calipari’s staff at Kentucky for more than a decade, is happy with his current status. He has been with the Kentucky program since 2010 and has been an associate head coach for the past six years.
“I have a great job for a lot of different reasons,” he said. “All I can tell you is that I’ve been blessed to be able to be in a position to help a lot of people. It’s more than just basketball with me when you’re in a position to help families.”
Payne has influenced several players during his tenure at Kentucky, especially the post players. He has coached first-round NBA draft picks Anthony Davis (2012) and Karl-Anthony Towns (2015) and helped many other Wildcat players reach draft status at Kentucky.
“That is a unique situation,” he said of coaching high-profile post players at the collegiate level. “It’s hard to even fathom leaving Kentucky when you’re in a position like I’m in.”
Although a change would mean Payne could strictly focus on basketball, he admitted he likes the recruiting aspect of college basketball.
“What people think is hard about college basketball, I love about college basketball,” he said. “I love recruiting and building relationships with families. All of that, that’s important to me.”
Payne has ties to New York President Leon Rose and Executive Vice President William Wesley. The Knicks are reportedly confident they can lure Payne to the Big Apple.
Kentucky deputy director of athletics DeWayne Peevy is a candidate for the AD post at DePaul University. Peevy has been at Kentucky for 12 years.
Peevy interviewed for the job last week and is a strong candidate because of his strong background in strategic planning, fund-raising and public initiatives when it comes to college basketball.
Lenti Ponsetto announced her retirement recently because of health issues and the school hopes to have a new athletics director by next month.
Keith Taylor is sports editor for Kentucky Today. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or twitter @keithtaylor21.