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Kentucky Basketball: UK announces addition of Zan Payne

Plus comments from Zan and John Calipari on the addition.

Michael Reaves - Lexington Herald-Leader

The Kentucky Wildcats have announced the addition of Zan Payne to the 2018-19 roster.

Payne, a standout from Lexington Catholic High School, is the son of associate head coach Kenny Payne. Zan will join UK as a walk-on for next season after averaging 19.3 points and 8.7 rebounds per game in his senior season.

”I am very excited to a part of the Big Blue Nation,” Payne said in a press release. “Over the last eight years, I’ve seen the best of the best players and teams in college basketball come through Lexington, and to be a part of the tradition is a dream come true. For Coach Cal to allow me this extraordinary opportunity, words can’t express my gratitude and appreciation.”

Payne was a three-year starter and scored 1,282 points, 14th in school history. He also collected 934 career rebounds to finish as Lexington Catholic’s fourth all-time rebounder.

”Every conversation Kenny and I have had about Zan has been about what’s best for Zan,” Calipari said in a press release. “I wanted Kenny to take the same approach with Zan that I had with Brad. Let the kid do what’s best for him and be there to support them. We’ve always been an option for him, but we wanted Zan to make this decision on his own.

“I’m so happy he’s decided to stay at home with us because he’s an underrated talent who is going to bring a lot of depth to our team. Like his dad, he’s got a fighter’s mentality and there is no doubt in my mind he’s going to scratch and claw his way to a role on this team once he get his knee healthy.

“One of the most gratifying times of my coaching career has been watching Brad grow and develop to the man he is today, and I’m so happy Kenny and Zan get that experience now. It will be fun to watch.”

A knee injury in February ended Payne’s high school career and may have prevented him from landing scholarship offers from schools. UK says that his status as he recovers from surgery to his right knee is undetermined at this time.