Payne already nervous about playing UL

Payne already nervous about playing UL

Kentucky won't play Louisville until Dec. 31, but new UK assistant coach Kenny Payne — a former player at Louisville — is already nervous about the game.

Kentucky won't play Louisville until Dec. 31, but new UK assistant coach Kenny Payne — a former player at Louisville — is already nervous about the game.

"I love Louisville. It is my school, my alma mater. The experience I had was unbelievable. To win a national championship, people still talk about that. My love for the school will always be there," said Payne. "The fact that I am at Kentucky now ... I have always respected Kentucky. Am I nervous they are going to boo me? But I also hope they embrace me the way my teammates have.

"(Former Louisville center) Pervis Ellison said 'send me Kentucky gear.' Everyone one of my teammates have embraced the move, which is important to me. (Former Louisville coaches) Denny (Crum) and Wade (Houston) have embraced the move. Junior Bridgeman, my mentor; all those guys Louisville boosters; alumni; they have all embraced it. That is important to me."

Payne said he talked to "all of them" before he left Oregon to join Calipari's staff. He also said it was not the first time he had been approached about leaving Oregon, in large part because of his growing reputation as a big-time recruiter.

"Every year I had about 10 or 15 schools trying to get me," he said. "Be careful what you ask for. You'll be surprised. The way I do things is different. I am never going to lie to a kid. My job is to help young people, not just win games or help a coach win games.

"My job is to help changes lives because I was that close from not being in this business. If not for the opportunity of going back to school, I would just be ex-University of Louisville player, ex-NBA player. I understand the importance of giving back. For me, that is vital."

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