Granted, he was heavily recruited when he was a prep standout in Mississippi, but he chose Louisville over UK and helped the Cardinals win a national championship. However, a curious path led him to Kentucky from Oregon this year to join John Calipari's coaching staff.
"I guess growing up playing ball at Louisville that was the perceived rivalry with the players, but I always respected Kentucky's program. We were always friends with each other. I recruited Rex Chapman and told him to come to Kentucky," Payne said. "(Kentucky players) Reggie Hanson and Winston Bennett and we were all friends. Kenny Walker recruited me (for Kentucky). We had a great relationship with Kentucky players. I still respect the programs of Louisville and Kentucky."
Wait a minute. How did a Louisville player recruit Chapman, one of Kentucky's all-time most popular players, for the Wildcats when Chapman was a home-grown Kentucky star from Owensboro?
"We were recruiting Rex (at Louisville) and I was his host. I just felt like Rex as a player was a super, super talented kid and we were stocked (with players)," Payne said. "We had a whole bunch of players. He could have come in and been one piece of nine. Instead, he came here and his impact on this program, today even if you look at it, is enormous with what he has done here."
So why didn't he come to Kentucky to play? Payne said UK and Louisville were his final choices, but that Louisville assistant coach Wade Houston came across as a "father figure" to him and his parents. It also hurt Kentucky that Joe B. Hall resigned and Eddie Sutton was named the new head coach.
"I remember when it happened that the first day after the press conference he (Sutton) came to Mississippi to see me. It was a tough decision, but what scared me was the new coach. I built relationships with Joe, (assistant coach) Leonard (Hamilton) and Kenny. Then the change was made and there was a lot of unknown," he said.
VAUGHT: Payne recruited Rex Chapman to UK
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