With Rick Pitino’s firing now official following a unanimous vote on Monday, the Louisville Cardinals now turn to David Padgett, a 32-year-old graduate of the school who has served as an assistant cach since the 2015 season. Padgett was named the school’s interim coach in September when Pitino was placed on administrative leave, and his contract for the 2017-18 season was finalized on Monday.
Padgett will be the youngest coach in the ACC by a wide margin in 2017, coming in at eight years younger than the league’s next-youngest coach, Josh Pastner of Georgia Tech, and 38 years younger than the league’s most senior coach, Mike Krzyzewski of Duke. He’ll actually be the youngest coach in college basketball this season, replacing Dana Ford of Tennessee State, who turned 33 this year.
Here are five things you need to know about Padgett.
1. He’s Played and Coached at Louisville
Padgett might be only 32, but he’s been around Louisville for most of his adult life. More accurately, he’s been with Louisville almost exclusively since transferring there from Kansas following the 2004 school year.
He arrived at Louisville in 2005 and nearly lost his basketball career when he fractured his kneecap early in his senior season. However, he managed to recover by January of the same season and helped the Cardinals to a regional final appearance, earning first-team All-Big East honors in the process.
Following a brief professional career in Europe, Padgett became an assistant coach at Indiana-Purdue-Indianapolis (IUPUI) for three seasons before returning to Louisville as Pitino’s director of basketball operations. He lasted for just one season in the job before he was promoted to a full-time assistant coach position, and he made such an impact on the Cardinals that when Pitino was placed on administrative leave following the news of the FBI scandal, the Louisville players pushed for Padgett to become the interim coach.
2. He’s From a Basketball Family
It’s almost a family rule for David Padgett: if you’re going to be in the family, you’re going to play basketball, and there’s a good chance that you’re going to coach it, too. Padgett’s father Pete was his coach in high school in Nevada, and Pete Padgett remained the coach at Reno High School until this year, when he agreed to join his son in Louisville as an informal adviser. Otherwise, he had coached Reno for all but one season since 1995. His only break from coaching the Huskies came in 2000, when he spent one year as an assistant coach at the University of California-Santa Barbara.
College coaching was more the forte of David’s grandfather Jim, who played at Oregon State and then coached Pete at the University of Nevada. Under Jim Padgett’s instruction, Pete Padgett became one of the best rebounders in NCAA history, grabbing 1,464 rebounds during his career with the Wolf Pack. That earned him a spot in the NCAA top 10 career leaders, a spot that Pete Padgett still has yet to relinquish after 41 years.
Besides David’s father and grandfather, other Padgett family members to play in college include his uncle Chris, who played for New Mexico, and his sister Megan, who suited up for San Diego. None of the Padgett family ever played in the NBA, although Pete and David both came close. Pete was drafted in 1976 by the Atlanta Hawks, but chose instead to focus on coaching basketball rather than playing. David was never drafted, but did play on the summer league teams of both the Miami Heat and the Portland Trail Blazers before being cut prior to the start of the regular season. David Padgett eventually played in Spain for two years before following his father and grandfather’s path and going into coaching.
3. He Sank the Last Basket Ever at Missouri’s Hearnes Center
This one still rankles Tigers fans to this day, because their final game ever at the Hearnes Center, which was open for basketball from 1972 to 2004 and housed some of Missouri’s most memorable basketball teams in history, was an 84-82 defeat against arch-rival Kansas. And the man who sank that basket was David Padgett.
Padgett, who was projected as the fourth-best center in the country when he came out of Reno, spent his freshman season with the Jayhawks and averaged 6.5 points and 4.5 rebounds per game. He started 19 of Kansas’ 33 games that season and ended the year one step short of the Final Four when the Jayhawks lost to Georgia Tech in the regional finals. Padgett, who had been recruited to Kansas by then ex-coach Roy Williams instead of Bill Self, the man he played for during his one year at Kansas, then opted to transfer to Louisville.
Before he left the Midwest, however, he left an indelible mark on the ancient rivalry between Kansas and Missouri. With two seconds to go, Padgett sank a turnaround that he called a lucky and ugly shot, giving Kansas a two-point lead that Missouri did not have time to match. The Jayhawks won the game and closed out the Hearnes Center with three consecutive victories over their hated rival, thanks to Padgett’s heroics.
4. He’ll Make as Much as $1 Million This Season
No matter what happens this year, Padgett will make a decent living. His contract as the interim coach calls for him to make $400,000 in base pay and $400,000 for his media and public relations obligations, mainly in the form of radio and television shows.
If he’s successful with the team he’s taking over, he has several bonuses he can trigger for graduating his players, making the Sweet 16, making the Final Four and winning the national championship. If Padgett’s entire group meets graduation benchmarks and cuts down the nets from a national title, he’ll take home exactly $1 million at the end of the season.
By that standard, Padgett would qualify as the best bargain in major college basketball if he has that kind of success. Out of the nine coaches in the ACC who guided their teams to the NCAA tournament last year, the lowest-paid coach was Wake Forest’s Danny Manning, who took home just over $1.3 million for getting Wake Forest into the opening round of the NCAA tournament. At the top of the scale was Pitino, who received $7.769 million and took Louisville to the second round of the tournament.
5. He’s Not Related to Division I’s Other Coach Padgett
That would be Scott Padgett of Samford University in Alabama. But although the two are no relation and grew up in completely different parts of the country (Scott being from Louisville, David from Reno), they’ve got some similarities and their paths have crossed.
Like David Padgett, Scott Padgett also played part of his college career for Pitino. Unlike David, Scott started his career with Pitino and finished with another coach. Scott Padgett committed to Kentucky while Pitino was still in Lexington and finished his career at Kentucky in 1998 under Tubby Smith following Pitino’s move to the Boston Celtics.
The two Padgetts coached against each other in 2015, when Samford and Louisville opened the season against each other. That game wasn’t much of a contest, as Louisville crushed Samford 86-45.
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