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Kenny Payne is just one of the contestants on "Who Wants to be a UK Assisstant Coach?"


by Alan Smith

The picture you see above is of one of three possible candidates for Rod Strickland’s replacement as one of UK’s assistant coaches. No, it’s not Rex Chapman. It’s Kenny Payne, the person being dunked on. He possibly wants some redemption in his life for his college career, and what better way to stick it to the Cardinals than to go to their rival team and “steal” their recruits. I guess winning a ring at Louisville, one that hardly anybody will ever remember, is something worth noting as a “great” college career.

But seriously speaking, Payne is a great recruiter and has close ties to Coach Calipari and Terrence Jones. The current Oregon assistant and former Louisville could be the one person that could get Jones to UK if nobody else could at this point. He recruited Jones while he was in Oregon, and also has a relationship with World Wide Wes, as does Calipari. The addition of Payne to UK’s staff along with Robic and Antigua would be great to add to a staff that is on track to recruit one of the best classes in 2011.

He isn’t the only person out there, though. The other two are also great recruiters. Emanuel “Book” Richardson from Arizona and Jerrance Howard from Illinois are the other two candidates for the job. Richardson was on Sean Miller’s staff at Xavier, also, and has helped bring in great players to build those programs up. Xavier has consistently been able to put good teams together but Arizona has been on a decline, and with Richardson on the staff Arizona is again flirting with some of the big names. One such name was Doron Lamb, who had long had Arizona on his list and played for the New York Gauchos AAU squad, a team Richardson had connections with.

Howard has also brought in some good recruits as well. That can be arguesd though because the teams that are put out on the court don’t necessarily reflect success. Illinois has struggled to get into the big dance the past 3-4 years, the one year they did not struggle was in 2005, when Coach Bruce Weber took them to the championship game with a 35-2 team. And that team wasn’t even made up of Howard’s or Weber’s recruits, it was Billy Gillispie’s. Gillispie was a former assistant at Illinois under Bill Self who managed to recruit the lakes of Dee Brown, Luther Head, and James Augustine. When you become “out-recruited” by Billy Gillispie, I think you have yourself a problem.

The real problem is, though, Howard seems to be fine at Illinois and has not expressed much if any interest in the position at UK although he’s been offered. He has already been offered such position before by Calipari and declined. Bruce Weber is looking to keep Howard on his staff, as Howard will most likely stay at his alma mater. Considering that all these candidates have a relationship with their head coach, the only one I see waiting to happen in the near future is one with Kenny Payne and John Calipari. And that’s why I expect him to take the UK Assistant Coach position soon.

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