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Louisville’s Staff & Rebuild Taking Shape

New coach Kenny Payne is making some savvy moves.

Kentucky v Utah
 LAS VEGAS, NEVADA - DECEMBER 18: Assistant head coach Kenny Payne of the Kentucky Wildcats stands on the court as the American national anthem is performed before the team’s game against the Utah Utes during the annual Neon Hoops Showcase benefiting Coaches vs. Cancer at T-Mobile Arena on December 18, 2019 in Las Vegas, Nevada. The Utes defeated the Wildcats 69-66.
Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images

The rebuild at Louisville is starting to look pretty good. Everyone is impressed with Kenny Payne, who was a huge help to John Calipari at Kentucky. And it hasn’t been discussed much but his connections to World Wide Wes, aka William Wesley, are probably going to be valuable, as well as potentially a fun irritant with Kentucky, particularly if Payne starts out-recruiting Calipari.

Nolan Smith is going to be a huge help there. He’s got a huge personality, as Duke fans know, and will kill it in recruiting, particularly with the moms. And generally speaking, the moms are a big deal.

Smith was Payne’s first hire but his second is also intriguing: Danny Manning.

Manning was a lousy head coach but at Kansas, he did a brilliant job with Bill Self’s big men. He’ll also be an asset when Louisville recruits big men.

Both are really astute hires by Payne.

The fun is going to be when Louisville starts to catch up to Kentucky - and keep in mind that Payne knows Calipari’s system, and Calipari, as well as anyone.

That’s a big deal but not the whole ball of wax.

The big question is if Payne can stabilize Louisville and make the Cardinals a national power again.

We don’t see why not, but on the other hand, things have not gone well for Louisville lately, and by Louisville, we mean more than just the basketball program. There’s a lot to be done.

That said, Payne is off to a smart and impressive start.