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Kenny Payne passes on becoming DePaul head coach

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Payne is sticking with the Knicks.

NCAA Basketball: Kentucky at Arkansas Nelson Chenault-USA TODAY Sports

Longtime Kentucky assistant Kenny Payne will not become the next head coach of the DePaul Blue Demons.

According to reporter Ian Begley, Payne is not leaving the New York Knicks to take the DePaul job.

Had Payne taken the job, he would have reunited with former Kentucky deputy athletics director DeWayne Peevy, who is now the AD at DePaul.

Payne was John Calipari’s right-hand man from 2010-20, serving as assistant head coach from 2010-2014 and associate head coach from 2014-20. At Kentucky, Payne helped guide the Wildcats to four Final Four appearances and the 2012 National Championship.

After the 2019-20 season, Payne left Lexington to join the Knicks coaching staff under Tom Thibodeau as an assistant. This season, Payne has helped the Knicks take a big step forward and are in the thick of the postseason race with a 23-22 record, which currently has them as the No. 5 seed in the Eastern Conference if the NBA playoffs began today.

At DePaul, Peevy will continue looking for someone to replace Dave Leitao, who posted a 127–147 record in his second tenure as Blue Demons head coach that ranged from 2015-21. The program has not been to the NCAA Tournament since 2004 and has finished last in the Big East each of the five years.