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Payne Adds Cardinal Legend Wagner to Staff

UofL head coach Kenny Payne introduces Milt Wagner
UofL head coach Kenny Payne introduces Milt Wagner(Kendrick Haskins)
Published: May. 24, 2022 at 6:54 PM EDT
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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WAVE) - New UofL basketball head coach, Kenny Payne’s latest hire is someone very familiar to Cards fans. The man who led UofL to its second national championship back in 1986, Milt Wagner. Payne and Wagner were teammates on that team.

Wagner’s title is Director of Player Development and Alumni Relations. He is the sixth all time leading scorer at the school, and his jersey hangs in the rafters at the KFC Yum! Center. Payne says bringing Milt back to the program is an opportunity he could not pass up. “I’m trying to create a championship culture. And in order to do that, you have to have guys who have won championships. And so, for Milt to have won one here, which I was a part of, but also to have done it with the NBA with the Lakers and Magic Johnson...that’s unique,” said Payne.

Wagner says he’s excited to return to his alma mater. UofL reached three NCAA Final Fours (1982, 1983, 1986) and participated in the NCAA Sweet Sixteen in all four of his playing seasons.  He redshirted the 1984-85 season after suffering a broken foot in the second game of the season. Payne and Wagner refer to each other as brothers, and Wagner is thrilled to be back with his Cardinal family. “I got my brother, the head coach, gave me the opportunity to come back. Be part of a historic program where I won a championship with, which we won a championship together,” said Wagner.

Of course, the big question is what affect will this have on Milt’s grandson DJ Wagner, who is ranked as the #1 recruit in next year’s class. It’s not totally clear if UofL can continue recruiting DJ with granddad on the staff. When asked about it, Milt only said what he’s allowed to say at this time. “I’m not getting into that right now. Like I said, this is just about me. Getting on the staff this year, this is about Milt Wagner being player development/alumni relations. You know, we’ll get into that part later on down the line, but right now this is about me being a part of the University of Louisville,” said Wagner.

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