VAUGHT: Former UK player hired as UL assistant

There I was on the backside at Churchill Downs watching for Kentucky Derby horses and trainers when a Rick Pitino press conference broke out. No kidding. The Louisville coach held a 7:30 a.m. press conference today to announce the various staff changes he's made.

There I was on the backside at Churchill Downs watching for Kentucky Derby horses and trainers when a Rick Pitino press conference broke out.

No kidding. The Louisville coach held a 7:30 a.m. press conference today to announce the various staff changes he's made.

For Kentucky fans, the big news was the addition of former UK walk-on Steve Masiello to Pitino's staff. Masiello has been an assistant at Manhattan for the last four years and is being brought to Louisville because of his recruiting connections in the east.

No matter what you think of Pitino, this is still a great storyline. Remember Masiello was a former ball boy for the New York Knicks when Pitino coached that team. He turned down some scholarship offers to play for Pitino at Kentucky because he thought that would enhance his chances to become a college coach.

Now the kid has turned into a proven coach and Pitino has rewarded him by giving him a spot on a Big East bench. Pitino says he plans to groom Masiello like he has associate coach Kevin Willard.

"Steve will help take a load off Kevin when it comes to scouting because that's what he did at Manhattan," Pitino said as horses worked out close to him at Churchill Downs. "I wanted someone with northeast recruiting connections. That's what he's been doing and will do for us."

Pitino appreciates what young coaches like Willard, the son of Holy Cross and ex-UK assistant Ralph Willard, and Masiello go through early in their careers.

"The first three or four years you borrow all the money you can from friends, move up in the business and then get your break," Pitino said. "It's a great life because you are on a journey and you don't know where it is going.

"It's not easy to go from being a ball boy to a walk-on who doesn't play to an assistant coach. But he's done all the difficult things to get himself into this position and it's going to be great to have him."


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