John Calipari’s coaching staff will have a much different look next season.
Tuesday UK announced that associate head coach Kenny Payne had accepted an offer from the New York Knicks to become an assistant head coach. Just minutes later, Jon Rothstein of CBS Sports reported that Kentucky plans to hire Indiana assistant Bruiser Flint to fill the void.
Lot of mixed emotions for us today as we bid farewell to associate head coach Kenny Payne, who has accepted an assistant coach position with the @nyknicks. We're absolutely thrilled for Kenny but sad to see him go. We wish you nothing but the best, KP!
— Kentucky Basketball (@KentuckyMBB) August 11, 2020
“First of all, I want to thank Dr. Eli Capilouto, Mitch Barnhart and Coach Cal for the unbelievable opportunity I’ve had at Kentucky for the last 10 years,” Payne said in a press release. “I’ve been blessed to not only coach at the greatest program in college basketball but to be in a position to help young men grow and develop and to play a part in their families’ lives. They’ve been 10 of the most rewarding years of my life, and I’ll cherish my time in Lexington for the rest of my career.
“This decision wasn’t easy for me. I have a great job at Kentucky, and to think about leaving has been one of the hardest things I have ever done. But I have also been offered an incredible opportunity with the New York Knicks and a chance to help restore what I believe should be the premier organization in the NBA.
“This is a bittersweet day for us at Kentucky,” UK head coach John Calipari said. “Kenny has been an extremely important part of our success here. His relationship with our players is second to none. He coaches them and challenges them as hard as anyone, but they respect him, they listen to him and they learn from him because they know he cares. As a basketball coach and a teacher, he could run any program in the country. Simply, he’s as good as they get.”
Payne joined Kentucky’s staff in 2010, where he has been Calipari’s right-hand man since. He is among the most respected assistant coaches by players in the county and the Knicks hope he will attract big-name free agents to the Big Apple.
His reported replacement, Bruiser Flint, worked under Calipari at the University of Massachutues from 1989-1996. He took over as UMASS head coach in the fall of 1996 when Calipari left to coach the New Jersey Nets.
Flint also spent Drexel 15 seasons’ as the head coach at Drexel, where he was named the Colonial Athletic Association coach of the year four times.
He has spent the past three seasons’ as an assistant coach at Indiana University under head coach Archie Miller.