The news that Zan Payne, son of UK associate head coach Kenny Payne, will join next year’s squad as a walk-on has been out there for a while, but this afternoon, Kentucky made it official, welcoming the Lexington Catholic star to the squad in a press release.
“I am very excited to a part of the Big Blue Nation,” Payne said. “Over the last eight years, I’ve seen the best of the best players and teams in college basketball come through Lexington, and to be a part of the tradition is a dream come true. For Coach Cal to allow me this extraordinary opportunity, words can’t express my gratitude and appreciation.”
Payne scored over 1,000 points at Lexington Catholic, but his senior season was cut short when he suffered a knee injury in December. Once hoping for a scholarship at a Division I program, Payne had to reevaluate his future, which Calipari is thrilled will include Kentucky.
“Every conversation Kenny and I have had about Zan has been about what’s best for Zan,” UK head coach John Calipari said. “I wanted Kenny to take the same approach with Zan that I had with Brad. Let the kid do what’s best for him and be there to support them. We’ve always been an option for him, but we wanted Zan to make this decision on his own. I’m so happy he’s decided to stay at home with us because he’s an underrated talent who is going to bring a lot of depth to our team. Like his dad, he’s got a fighter’s mentality and there is no doubt in my mind he’s going to scratch and claw his way to a role on this team once he get his knee healthy. One of the most gratifying times of my coaching career has been watching Brad grow and develop to the man he is today, and I’m so happy Kenny and Zan get that experience now. It will be fun to watch.”
For more on Zan, check out TJ Walker’s exclusive interview with Kenny Payne from last week: