To be perfectly honest, I had no idea who Kenny Payne was until last Thursday when I saw his name mentioned as a possible replacement for Rick Stansbury at MSU.
If told you UK Asst Coach Kenny Payne was a possibility for MSU... what would you say to that?— TheJunction (@TheJunction) March 15, 2012
A few potential candidates at MSU: Kenny Payne (UK assistant); Stan Jones (FSU assistant); Sean Woods (MVSU), Steve Prohm (Murray State).— Brandon Marcello (@bmarcello) March 16, 2012
Who is Kenny Payne? First off, he's a Mississippi native. Payne prepped at Northeast Jones High School in Laurel, where he was a Parade All-American and the state's player of the year in 1985. After high school, Payne took his talents to Louisville where he would win an national championship in 1986 and score 1,083 points in his career for the Cardinals, playing for legendary head coach Denny Crum. He only played four seasons in the NBA after being drafted 19th overall by the Philadelpia 76ers, but had a lengthy professional career overseas.
Payne began his coaching career as an assistant at Oregon in 2005 and joined John Calipari's staff at Kentucky in 2010. He is apparently a very strong recruiter and Kentucky credits him with helping transform Josh Harrellson from a bench-warmer to the SEC's leading rebounder and a member of the NCAA All-East Region Tournament team in 2010-11.
From the "mmmm hmmmm" department comes this: Payne is responsible for recruiting five-star recruit Devonta Pollard, Mississippi State's top target in the 2012 class, to Kentucky. I don't think there is any doubt that bringing in Payne = Devonta Pollard signs with MSU.
I have no idea if Payne can really coach, but I like what he brings to the table recruiting-wise. Could State do better? Yes, but they could also do worse.