UK basketball associate head coach Kenny Payne hired by NBA team

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(Photo: WDKY)

LEXINGTON, Ky. (WDKY) – UK basketball associate head coach Kenny Payne is headed to the NBA.

Payne has accepted an assistant coaching position with the New York Knicks, the organization announced Tuesday.

“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.”

Payne’s departure ends a memorable 10-year run that included 295 wins, the 2012 national championship, four Final Four appearances, eight NCAA Tournament berths, five Southeastern Conference regular-season championships, five SEC Tournament titles and 33 NBA Draft picks.

He was Coach John Calipari’s most senior assistant coach.

“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.

An immediate national search will begin for Payne’s replacement.

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