LOUISVILLE, Ky. — It may have taken a little longer than most fans expected, but Kenny Payne’s first coaching staff at Louisville is now officially complete.
On Wednesday, Payne, who was hired as the Cardinals’ head coach on March 18, officially announced that Oregon executive manager Josh Jamieson would be the third and final assistant on his bench. Earlier this month, he also added former Duke assistant Nolan Smith and former Kansas/Wake Forest legend Danny Manning.
“Over time, you’ll understand that what I’ve basically done is build a team that’s a great team,” Payne said during Jamieson’s introductory press conference. “Not good, that’s great.”
Payne has yet to make a few more hires for his support staff, or at least officially announce them, but he’s already made the three most significant and sidelined hires. That being said, let’s take a look at what each assistant, individually and collectively, brings to Louisville.
First, let’s take a look at what Smith has been bringing since he was first hired. Although he is the youngest of all the staff coaches at just 33, he has an incredibly bright future ahead of him. Spending 10 of the last 15 years with the Blue Devils as a player and staff member, he learned from one of the sport’s all-time greats in Mike Krzyzewski, and envisions a rising star in coaching circles. college basketball.
At Louisville, he’ll likely work alongside the guards when it comes to the coaching perspective, given that was his position during his playing days. He’ll also likely be Payne’s staff ace scout. , as he was heavily involved in the engagement of 22 Duke Dariq Whitehead and the engagement of 23 Duke Caleb Foster. Both are top-15 prospects and both classes are No. 1 overall for the Blue Devils
“As I talked about in my (intro) press conference, the criteria I was looking for (in an assistant coach), all the time I knew it was [Smith]”, Payne said. “Love of young people, high character, dedicated to craftsmanship, helping children achieve their dreams. It’s all him.”
Next, let’s look at Manning. Right off the bat, he gives Payne what he calls “invaluable” experience as Manning has eight years of experience as a head coach – six of them in the ACC at Wake Forest. It might not have been the most successful run, but with hindsight being 20/20, Manning can pass all the knowledge and advice on how to be a head coach to Payne.
Although Manning recruited fairly well by Wake Forest standards, he also showcased his talent and ability to develop post players. John Collins was just a three-star prospect out of high school, but he became an All-ACC first-team player and a 2017 NBA Draft first-round pick. Oliver Sarr also went from a three-star prospect to an All-ACC caliber player, and saw a noticeable drop in his effectiveness after moving to Kentucky.
“What better situation for me, my first job as head coach, than to have this brother (Manning) – who I consider my brother – right next to me,” Payne said. “Guiding me, helping me, giving me his experiences as well as mine and Nolan’s, and trying to build that together.”
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Then finally, we have Jamieson. Sure, he might not be a hot recruit like Smith or Manning were, but there are huge potential upsides to this hire. He has spent the past 15 years in Eugene, 14 of them as the Ducks’ director of operations. If Justin Perez ends up becoming Payne’s director of basketball operations as was reportedJamieson can help with the transition.
Not only that, but Jamieson gives Payne and Louisville a West Coast connection. Of course, his addition fuels the ever-lingering Nike vs. Adidas debate among Louisville fans, but one twist to this could be that his relationships with people closely tied to Nike could benefit from, at the very least, some recruiting. point of view. He also has some coaching and recruiting experience stemming from his days at the University of Portland.
“[Jamieson] is one of the brightest young minds in basketball in the industry,” Payne said. “He did everything it took to run a program from the ground up. it’s to run a basketball program, this man did, and he’s a hell of a basketball coach. This opportunity is an advantage for us more than I can tell you, and I am happy that he is here with me.”
Given Payne’s skill set as a coach, it seems like there are two areas that this staff should excel in: recruiting and post-player development. Payne’s Kentucky track record as a scout speaks for itself, and the 1-2 punch from him and Smith will very soon get the Cardinals back in the mix with elite business.
Plus, adding that most of Louisville’s six confirmed returning players are in the front court – not to mention that Payne the first commitment comes from a front court player – the painted area of the floor could very well be a Cardinals strength for the 2022-23 season. Of course, the list is far from complete, but there’s reason to believe Louisville’s big men should be a lot more physical and tough than they have been in recent years.
There are still months to go before we see this team in action again, and there’s still no real idea how the Kenny Payne era as a whole will play out, let alone his first year at the helm. But with the staff he’s surrounded himself with, coupled with what he brings himself, there are very valid reasons for Louisville fans to be excited.
(Photo by Nolan Smith: Matt Stone – Courier Journal / USA TODAY NETWORK, Danny Manning: Michael Clevenger – Courier Journal / USA TODAY NETWORK, Josh Jamieson: Alton Strupp – Courier Journal / USA TODAY NETWORK)
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