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Nolan Smith Introduced At Louisville

Duke fans will miss him but he’s where he needs to be.

North Carolina v Duke
DURHAM, NORTH CAROLINA - MARCH 05: Assistant Coach Nolan Smith looks on during the first half of the game against the North Carolina Tar Heels at Cameron Indoor Stadium on March 05, 2022 in Durham, North Carolina.
Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images

As we’ve said before, and as most you surely know, Nolan Smith’s relationship to Louisville is deep and complex.

He was born there and his father, who died tragically young at just 34, is buried there.

And in his introductory press conference, Smith and his new boss Kenny Payne underscored the depth of their connection to each other and Louisville.

Payne said this: “From the day I walked on this campus to the day I left, Derek Smith was a part of everything I’ve done. To prepare for the NBA, I trained with Derek with the 76ers, and they ended up drafting me. I can’t begin to tell you what that man meant for me. He changed my life. And to be sitting here with his son with me, I can’t put it into words where you would understand.”

For his part, Smith said that he had had a lot of uncles since his father died: “KP’s been that for me since my dad passed away — even while he was alive, but especially when my dad passed away,” Smith said. “I had a lot of people come into my life, and Kenny Payne was one of those people that came into my life that coached me in life, coached me in helping me become a man, coached me in basketball as a player and even now as a coach. Somebody that I could always call and be a mentor.”

Smith mentioned a couple of times that he was “home” and for him, and us, the great news is that he has not just one home, but two. He’ll always be part of the Brotherhood and always welcome at Duke.