Payne, 37, replaces former UO assistant John Cooper, who left in April to become associate head coach at Auburn.
"When I went through the process of interviewing and educating myself on Kenny Payne, it became clear to me that I had a person with a story to tell that rang true of every student-athlete in our sport today," said Kent.
A veteran of 10 professional basketball leagues worldwide, including a four-year stint with the NBA's Philadelphia 76ers, Payne came to Louisville from Northeast Jones High School in Laurel, Miss., where he was a Parade All-American and the state's player of the year.
At Louisville, he scored 1,083 points and shot 40 percent from three-point range during his four-year career. His best year was his senior season when he averaged 14.5 points and 5.7 rebounds per game, and was named to the All-Metro Conference team.
After Payne finished his eligibility at Louisville in 1989, he embarked on an 11-year professional career that would take him to nine countries on five different continents. He was a first round selection in the 1989 NBA draft, going 19th overall to the 76ers. Payne averaged 3.5 points per game during his four-year NBA career with Philadelphia.
The next several seasons saw Payne play in the Continental Basketball Association (Tri-Cities, Wash.) and overseas in Italy, Japan, Brazil, the Philippines, Cypress, China and Argentina. He finished his professional career in 2000 following a season with Team Taipans of Cairns, Australia.
Payne then returned to Louisville to complete his education, and became one of the first success stories of Louisville's Cardinal Degree Completion Program, which was started in 2000 to help former UL student-athletes complete their degrees. More than 14 years after playing his final game in a Louisville uniform, Payne earned his bachelor's of science degree in sport administration in 2003.
"Kenny will add a wealth of knowledge and experience not only in basketball, but also in life's journeys that will benefit our program and any student-athletes who may have ambitions of playing professionally versus getting an education," Kent said.
"Kenny will work hand-in-hand with (assistant coach) Scott Duncan in recruiting, especially in the areas of the East and Midwest. And he will be active in working out our players as well as the day-to-day operations of the program."
Payne and his wife Michelle have two children and currently reside in Wilmington, Del.