Posted on: May 26, 2010 7:25 pm
Edited on: May 26, 2010 7:28 pm
Oregon's Dana Altman confirmed Wednesday that assistant Kenny Payne is leaving to join John Calipari at Kentucky.
"Kenny's gonna go to Kentucky,'' Altman said, according to the Oregonian newspaper. "He's done a great job for us, and I really wanted him to stay. It's been kind of an awkward start because I did not know Kenny when I got here a month ago, but after a week, I got very comfortable around him and offered him a job and wanted him to stay. But he had a number of offers on the table and investigated them all, and he went to Kentucky this past weekend and really liked it, felt like it was in his best interest and his family's best interest to go to Kentucky."
The hiring of Payne is notable because he's an elite recruiter and friends with William "Worldwide Wes" Wesley, the basketball powerbroker with longstanding ties to Calipari. Payne replaces Rod Strickland, who was demoted after a recent drinking-and-driving arrest. UK's other assistants are John Robic and Orlando Antigua.
Posted on: May 23, 2010 8:32 pm
Edited on: May 23, 2010 8:46 pm
Oregon assistant Kenny Payne visited Kentucky this weekend and is a candidate to join John Robic and Orlando Antigua on John Calipari's staff, Oregon coach Dana Altman told CBSSports.com on Sunday.
"Kenny's really good," Altman said by phone. "He works hard and does a good job. That's why Kentucky wants him."
A move by Payne to Kentucky would come as no surprise given that he's a close friend of William "Worldwide Wes" Wesley, the basketball powerbroker with ties to Calipari. It's also worth noting that Payne has spent years recruiting Terrence Jones, a Portland native who committed to Kentucky last week. Multiple sources told CBSSports.com that Payne's probable presence at Kentucky was a factor, though not the determining factor, in helping the Wildcats lure Jones away from Washington. Jones publicly committed to Washington last month but waffled in the wake of a phone call with Calipari. The McDonald's All-American signed a financial aid agreement with UK last week.
Altman said he plans to meet with Payne to discuss his future in the next 48 hours.
Posted on: May 13, 2010 11:00 am
Kentucky assistant Rod Strickland, in the wake of a drinking-and-driving arrest, has been demoted to an administrative role, which should clear the way for Oregon assistant Kenny Payne to join John Robic and Orlando Antigua on John Calipari's staff.
"Rod Strickland has been a vital part of our success here at Kentucky and helped set a foundation for our program,” Calipari said. “He will continue to be an integral part of our future successes in a non-coaching capacity."
Worth noting is that Payne is a close friend of William Wesley, the basketball powerbroker with longstanding ties to Calipari. Assuming Payne fills Strickland's spot at UK, the Wildcats might then become the favorite to land Terrence Jones, the McDonald's All-American from Portland who is still deciding between Washington and Kentucky.
Payne recruited Jones while at Oregon.
Posted on: April 19, 2010 10:01 am
I might've set a record for emails about William Wesley over the past week.
If I got one I got 100 -- one for each thing good ol' Worldwide Wes supposedly orchestrated on behalf of Kentucky in the past seven days. According to readers, he delivered recruits and met with others, and I'm half-surprised nobody's mentioned the role he almost certainly played in Sunday's 6-5 baseball win over Florida.
Wesley must've at least called pitches, right?
Honestly, it's become comical.
And just so we're clear, understand that I'm not here to tell you Wesley doesn't have influence on lots of things because, well, he does. You don't gain the reputation of being one of the most powerful men at all levels of basketball without being powerful. He's everything you think and more. But his celebrity has reached a point over the past few years where he's either blamed or credited for everything that happens, and that's just silly.
Let's take Brandon Knight, for instance.
Knight is the top point guard in the Class of 2010.
He committed to Kentucky last week.
Best I can tell from talking to people on both sides of Knight's recruitment, Wesley was uninvolved. He's never met Knight's parents and never attended one of Knight's games at Pine Crest High in Florida even though he had every reason in the world to be there considering Billy Thompson Jr was among Knight's teammates. Thompson Jr, case you didn't know, is the son of former Louisville star Billy Thompson, a Camden, N.J. native just like Wesley. They've known each other forever to the point where they're considered "family."
But Wesley never went to watch Knight and Thompson play.
Because it would've been on Twitter in a matter of minutes, and there was no sense in turning the recruitment into a spectacle because Knight was going to Kentucky no matter what. And yet you know who got credit for Knight's commitment to Kentucky, don't you? Yep, Worldwide Wes, the boogie man of basketball whose reputation has reached legendary status. Again, I'm not trying to tell you his presence hasn't aided in recruiting. All I'm trying to tell you is that he's much bigger than most realize, and he's not just out there hustling players for Calipari. For every time you've seen Wesley at a UK game, there's another time where he had dinner with Ben Howland, spent an afternoon with Mike Krzyzewski, sat with Bill Self's wife at a KU game.
Remember, he's Worldwide Wes.
Not Commonwealth of Kentucky Wes.
Anyway, I guess my message is this: Chill.
Each thing that happens at Kentucky or with Calipari is not the result of Wesley. Trying to credit or blame him for every UK player is like trying to credit or blame Osama Bin Laden for every terrorist attack. Things are more complex than that. So my advice is to chill and take a step back because though Wesley is more than most understand he's not exactly what most seem to think. I mean, if Calipari somehow ends up coaching LeBron James next season, absolutely, credit or blame Worldwide Wes. I know I will. But those who are now tying to credit or blame him for every little thing are going overboard because sometimes, if you can believe this, he's just not all that involved.
Posted on: March 8, 2010 12:43 am
The Northern Iowa Panthers made the field.
Will the Florida Gators eventually join them?
Here's Monday morning's Gettin' In.
Teams that punched tickets Sunday: Northern Iowa earned an automatic bid to the NCAA tournament with Sunday's 67-52 win over Wichita State in the Missouri Valley Conference tournament title game. That means five of the 65 spots in the field are claimed.
Best game: William & Mary was up 14 at halftime and down a point in the final minute, which should tell you what kind of second half it was for the Tribe in their Colonial tournament semifinal against Northeastern. But they still won. Thanks to a David Schneider 3-pointer with 36 seconds left, and despite giving Northeastern seven shots at the tie or win in the final 30 seconds. William & Mary will now meet Old Dominion in Monday's tournament title game. If your favorite team is on the bubble, root for ODU.
Team whose dream remained alive: Western Kentucky's quest to make the NCAA tournament for the third consecutive season remains alive thanks to Sunday's 65-64 win over Arkansas State in the quarterfinals of the Sun Belt tournament. The Hilltoppers have won eight straight heading into Monday night's semifinal against Troy, which is both an average Brad Pitt film and the Sun Belt's top seed.
Team whose dream was crushed: VCU beat Delaware and George Mason to advance to the semifinals of the Colonial tournament, then jumped to a 12-point lead Sunday with less than 11 minutes remaining against top-seeded Old Dominion. Suddenly, fans of bubble teams from San Diego State to Rhode Island became huge Monarchs fans. Lucky for them, ODU closed with a 22-10 run to force overtime, and the Monarchs ultimately advanced to the championship game with a 73-69 win. More to the point, the bubble didn't shrink.
Performance I hope you witnessed: Wisconsin's Jon Leuer made eight of 13 field goal attempts and finished with 20 points in Sunday's 72-57 win at Illinois that doubled as the junior forward's best effort since returning from a wrist injury. It helped the Badgers remain one of four Big Ten schools among the top 12 of the Top 25 (and one).
Performance I hope you missed: Manny Harris closed Michigan's dismal regular season with a dismal effort. He missed nine of 10 shots -- including all four 3-point attempts -- in a 64-48 loss at Michigan State that dropped the Wolverines to 14-16 overall and 7-11 in the league, which means the same Michigan team that began the regular season ranked 15th nationally ended the regular season eighth in the Big Ten standings. But hey, it's still better than the 10th-place finish the football team recorded!
Three random notes
1. A 74-66 loss at Kentucky pushed Florida's losing streak to three and put the Gators on uncertain ground entering the SEC tournament. For now, they're still fine despite a RPI in the 50s and three losses outside of the top 75. But they probably won't be if they somehow lose to Auburn in Thursday's SEC tournament opener.
2. Chattanooga's Ty Patterson was released from the hospital Sunday after suffering what was described as a "sudden cardiac event" during Saturday night's 96-69 loss to Charleston in the Southern Conference tournament quarterfinals. What caused Patterson's collapse remains unclear, but he was reportedly well enough to attend a women's basketball game Sunday afternoon. Why he'd want to do that also remains unclear.
3. Gonzaga did what Gonzaga does Sunday, which is to say advance to the WCC tournament finals. The Zags cruised to a 77-62 victory over Loyola Marymount in the semifinals and are now just a win away from their 10th WCC tournament championship in 12 seasons, and it's starting to look like the only thing that'll ever bring balance to this league is Oregon somehow convincing Mark Few to join the Pac-10.
Final thought: Seth Davis reported Friday that William Wesley (better known in basketball circles as World Wide Wes) is transitioning from behind-the-scenes powerbroker to in-the-spotlight agent of college and NBA coaches, and the question people keep asking is why.
Why is he doing it?
But the better question is this: Why not now?
Wesley has become too high-profile in recent years to move and shake in the shadows, making a move to the mainstream inevitable, and there's no better time than now to make that move. Wesley is tight with the man who is about to be the biggest free agent in the history of basketball and perhaps American sports (LeBron James), and even tighter with the hottest name in coaching (John Calipari) who just so happens to be coaching four future first-round picks, including the projected No. 1 pick in this summer's draft (John Wall). Meantime, Wesley's Nike connections will almost certainly allow his voice to be heard when Oregon starts looking for a new coach, his Jay Z connections will almost certainly allow his voice to be heard when the Nets start looking for a new coach, and I could go on but surely you get the point.
A massive summer at different levels of basketball is nearly upon us, and the man formerly known as 'Fresh Wes' happens to have established relationships with many of the key characters. Any opinions on what's to come are all speculative, of course, but it's not an exaggeration to tell you many believe he'll be the guy who helps decide where King James plays the rest of his career, and the guy who helps decide which coach will be lucky enough to coach (and by coach , I mean ride ) the future Hall of Famer to NBA titles.
There are no limits to what's possible here.
And that's basically why Wesley is making this move.
He's long been labeled as the most powerful man in basketball.
It was only a matter of time before he took a step toward becoming exactly that.
Posted on: March 5, 2010 8:41 pm
Edited on: March 5, 2010 9:30 pm
William Wesley, better known in basketball circles as "World Wide Wes," is close to officially becoming an agent who will represent NBA and college coaches, Seth Davis of CBS Sports and SI.com reported Friday. According to the report, Wesley will join Creative Artists Agency, a company whose list of clients include two people with whom Wesley has long been closely associated -- namely Cleveland Cavaliers star LeBron James and Kentucky coach John Calipari.
Wesley declined comment when reached by CBSSports.com late Friday.
A New Jersey native who now lives in Detroit, Wesley formed a friendship with Milt Wagner while in high school and has been developing high-profile relationships ever since, all of which have helped him earn a reputation as one of the most powerful men in basketball. Wesley is tight with everybody from Michael Jordan to Jay Z; it's been that way for decades. But Wesley has still mostly operated behind the scenes until recently, when his presence at events started becoming newsworthy for traditional journalists and bloggers alike.
Now Wesley will be out front and in the spotlight.
He'll almost certainly change the business, one way or another.
(Click this link to read an extensive GQ article about Wesley published in 2007.)
Posted on: August 20, 2009 4:02 pm
Edited on: August 20, 2009 4:42 pm
MEMPHIS, Tenn. -- As expected, Memphis will ...
That's probably just a coincidence, right?
Posted on: July 22, 2009 11:53 pm
LAS VEGAS -- Josh Selby came out dunking.
And then he dunked again.
And then again.
And it became pretty clear pretty quickly why his decommitment from Tennessee is considered a big deal in recruiting circles. Simply put, the 6-foot-3 point guard is a special talent -- just a unique combination of size, strength, speed and toughness, all of which made Bill Self (Kansas), John Calipari (Kentucky), Jim Calhoun (Connecticut), Billy Donovan (Florida), Josh Pastner (Memphis) and Rick Stansbury (Mississippi State) drive to a small high school auxiliary gym in the middle of a painfully hot July afternoon.
They were each there Wednesday (as were assistants from Louisville and Tennessee). What they witnessed was Selby's initial game since reopening his recruitment, and it was a dominant performance against an obviously overmatched team on the first day of the Adidas Super 64 -- one of four major summer tournaments being held this week in Las Vegas.
Selby spoke about his decommitment after the win.
He said it wasn't his decision as much as it was a "family decision."
"We just want to make sure that Tennessee is the right fit," Selby said. "It might not be."
Selby said Calipari, Calhoun, Self and Ohio State's Thad Matta have each called his mother, Maeshon Witherspoon, since word of his decommitment surfaced Sunday. Still, the consensus top 10 national recruit described himself as "wide-open" and declined to offer a list of potential destinations, although it should be noted that multiple industry sources have labeled Kentucky the leader.
The main reason, it seems, is because Witherspoon acknowledged to CBSSports.com that she met with Calipari's close friend William Wesley during the LeBron James Skills Academy earlier this month, roughly two weeks before Selby decommitted from Tennessee. In fairness, Witherspoon has downplayed the significance of the meeting and insisted that it had nothing to do with the decommitment. But most coaches familiar with the business of recruiting are skeptical that this is all just a big coincidence. And then there's Tennessee assistant Tony Jones, who supplied a vague but telling quote to the Knoxville News Sentinel .
"I'm not going to comment on any specific player, because I am not allowed to do that," Jones told the paper. "I'll just say something smells right now."
On Wednesday, Selby was asked specifically about Wesley.
"I've never met him," Selby said. "I don't know who he is."