LOUISVILLE, Ky. – Five of University of Louisville Head Coach Rick Pitino’s key assistants will walk the red carpet at The Julep Ball.
Mike Balado, Kenny Johnson, Wyking Jones, Kevin Keatts and David Padgett will be among the stars from the sports and entertainment worlds at the May 2 gala.
The premier Derby Eve Party with a Purpose, The Julep Ball is held annually on the evening before the Kentucky Derby and supports the work of the James Graham Brown Cancer Center at the University of Louisville. The event on May 2 at the KFC Yum! Center kicks off with a 6:30 p.m. cocktail reception, followed by dinner and a live auction at 8 p.m.
An Official Event of the 140th Kentucky Derby®, The Julep Ball provides a celebrity-studded night to remember with a multi-course seated dinner, a knock-your-socks-off auction, multiple open specialty bars, complimentary valet parking, and dancing until the wee hours of Derby morning. A limited number of tickets to The Julep Ball are still available. The full evening’s entertainment is $600 per person, $5,000 for a table of 10, and $100 per person for dance-only tickets. For further information and to buy tickets, go to The Julep Ball website, julepball.org.
About Balado, Johnson, Jones, Keatts and Padgett:
Mike Balado (pronounced bah-LAW-doe) joined the University of Louisville men’s basketball staff as an assistant coach in April 2013 after serving in a similar capacity at Florida International from 2012-13.
Balado helped FIU to quickly achieve success when the 18-14 Panthers produced their first winning season in 13 years, the fourth-highest win total in school history and the most Sun Belt Conference victories (11) since joining the league in 1998-99. He was an assistant under Richard Pitino, the son of UofL head coach Rick Pitino, who is now the head coach at Minnesota.
“Mike brings a wealth of experience in both the recruiting world and in coaching,” said Pitino. “An important factor in adding him to our staff was his knowledge of what we do defensively and in scouting, after working with Richard (Pitino) for a year. It should not take a great deal of time in acclimating him to our program. He’s a tireless worker and he should fit like a glove. He also brings another facet to our recruiting efforts, as he speaks fluent Spanish and has connections throughout Latin America.”
Prior to his year at FIU, Balado worked three seasons at High Point University (2009-12), where he assisted in all areas of the Panther basketball program with a heavy concentration on recruiting. He spent the 2008-09 season on the Miami (Fla.) basketball staff where he helped the Hurricanes compile a 19-13 record and a berth in the National Invitation Tournament (NIT) while working on player development, scouting and game preparation.
Balado played collegiate basketball at St. Thomas University in Miami, where he was a two-year starter and captain while helping his team win the regular season conference title in 1997. Recipient of a student-athlete leadership award as a senior, he earned a bachelor’s degree in psychology from St. Thomas in 1998 and a master’s of education in exercise and sport science from Augusta State in 2000.
A native of Miami, Fla.,Balado is married to the former Alicia Nigro and the couple had twins, Aiden and Addy, in June 2009.
Kenny Johnson, assistant men’s basketball coach and recruiting coordinator at Indiana for the past two years, joined the Louisville men’s basketball staff as an assistant coach under head coach Rick Pitino in April 2014.
“We’re very excited to have Kenny in our program,” said Pitino. “The first thing I did when Kevin Keatts left to become the head coach at UNC Wilmington was to ask my son Richard (Pitino, head coach at Minnesota) to find the best rising assistant coach in the business. He spoke to a lot of people and they led directly to Kenny Johnson and others think he is outstanding as well. He is extremely bright, having studied cell, molecular biology and genetics in college.”
While at Indiana, Johnson helped the Hoosiers assemble top 20 recruiting classes each of the past two seasons. On the court, Indiana produced a combined 46-22 record in his two seasons there, winning the Big Ten Championship, earning a No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament and reaching the NCAA Sweet 16 in 2013.
ESPN.com’s Jeff Goodman, after surveying more than 200 collegiate coaches, named Johnson as the nation’s 11th most respected/feared assistant coach in a July 2013 listing after just two seasons as a collegiate assistant.
Johnson was an assistant coach at Towson in 2011-12, helping assemble a top five mid-major recruiting class. He began his coaching career in 2002 as the associate head coach at Eleanor Roosevelt High School before moving to Dr. Henry Wise High School in 2006 for one year. He was associate head coach at Paul IV High school for four years (2007-11) before advancing to the collegiate ranks.
As a senior at Oxon Hill (Md.) High School in 1994, he was named Science and Technology Student of the Year. He earned his bachelor’s degree in cell, molecular biology and genetics in 1999 at the University of Maryland, where he was a Benjamin Banneker Scholarship recipient. He worked as a protein chemist/molecular biologist at Human Genome Sciences in Rockville, Md. after graduation.
A native of Oxon Hill, Johnson and his wife, Doreen, have two sons, Amare (11) and Mekai (8).
Wyking Jones (pronounced WHY-king) is in his third season as an assistant basketball coach for the University of Louisville after serving in a similar capacity two seasons at the University of New Mexico. He joined the Cardinals in April 2011.
“Wyking has the experience necessary to help us recruit top-notch student-athletes from all 50 states,” said Pitino. “He is highly regarded in all circles as a tireless worker and an outstanding communicator with young people. I had asked Richard (Pitino) to provide me the top five assistant coaching candidates in the country and I would interview them. Immediately he had Wyking at the top of the list. After considerable research, it was apparent that he had all of the characteristics necessary to bring to Cardinal Basketball.”
In Jones’ two seasons, the Cardinals reached the NCAA Final Four twice – including winning the 2013 NCAA Championship – and have a combined 65-15 record. He has helped the Cardinals assemble two straight top 10 recruiting classes.
During Jones’ two years at New Mexico under head coach Steve Alford, the Lobos produced a combined 52-18 record. The 2009-10 New Mexico team won a school-record 30 games (30-5 record), won the Mountain West Conference Championship and was ranked eighth in the final AP poll.
Before joining the New Mexico staff, Jones spent two years as a basketball travel team manager with Nike Elite Youth Basketball. There he managed all 45 travel teams and the tournaments that Nike sponsored in its grassroots youth program while he built key relationships across the nation.
Jones lettered four years at Loyola Marymount for head coach John Olive (1991-95). He emerged as a junior through a staunch work ethic and unassuming manner to earn all-West Coast Conference honors and the Lions’ Student Athlete of the Year in 1993-94.
Jones earned a bachelor’s degree in business administration from Loyola Marymount in 1995. He served as a Lions’ assistant coach during the 1996-97 season. He and his wife, Estrella, have a son, Jameel, and a daughter, Zoe.
Kevin Keatts, who won two national prep championships and was runner-up on three occasions as head coach at Hargrave Military Academy over eight seasons, just wrapped up his final year on the University of Louisville men’s basketball staff.
In March, Keatts was named head coach at University of North Carolina-Wilmington, joining 10 other former assistants under Pitino now serving as college head coaches.
“Kevin has been one of the best assistant coaches with which I have had the good fortune to work, and I’ve had a lot of them,” Pitino said. “He is a terrific person, coach, scout, family man and recruiter. He possesses all of the variables to build a successful program. We are really going to miss his upbeat personality … .”
Keatts was promoted to associate head coach in January 2014 after serving as an assistant coach under head coach Rick Pitino since joining the Cardinals in April 2011 and helped the Cardinals assemble two straight top ten recruiting classes. In his two seasons at UofL, the Cardinals reached the NCAA Final Four twice – including winning the 2013 NCAA Championship – won two Big East Conference championships, and have a combined 65-15 record.
ESPN.com’s Jeff Goodman, after surveying more than 200 collegiate coaches, named Keatts as the nation’s third most respected/feared assistant coach in a July 2013 listing.
Keatts’ success as a prep coach is staggering. In 10 seasons in two separate stints as the head coach at Hargrave (1999-2001, 2003-2011), he compiled an incredible 263-17 record with two national prep titles (2004, 2008), three runner-up finishes (2005, 2006, 2009) and two additional appearances among the final four prep teams (2007, 2010).
Keatts coached nine players at the prep level that reached the NBA: Joe Alexander, Jordan Crawford, Josh Howard, Vernon Macklin, Mike Scott, Marreese Speights, Sam Young, David West and Korleone Young.
Keatts was a two sport standout in basketball and football at Heritage High School in Lynchburg, Va., and also excelled in basketball at Ferrum College. He and his wife Georgette have two sons, Kevin (9) and Kaden (5).
David Padgett, a former three-year starting center for the Cardinals, is in his first year on the UofL men’s basketball staff as assistant video coordinator.
Padgett spent three years as an assistant basketball coach at IUPUI (2011-14) after a year with UofL as an assistant strength coach (2010-11). He played professional basketball for UB LaPalma in the Canary Islands for two years following his graduation from UofL. He had reached the final preseason cut of the Miami Heat before his playing career in Spain.
A three-year starter and captain at center for the Cards (2005-08), Padgett was a unanimous first-team All-BIG EAST Conference selection as a senior and also earned USBWA All-District IV honors. He averaged a team-leading 11.2 points and grabbed 4.8 rebounds his senior year in 2007-08 when the Cardinals reached the NCAA Elite Eight.
Padgett ranks second in career field goal percentage at UofL, hitting 61.3 percent of his shots (332-542). His .667 field goal percentage as a senior was the second best ever at UofL. He set a BIG EAST Conference field goal percentage record for league games as a senior, hitting 68.3 percent of his shots in 18 games (86-of-126). He was a second team All-BIG EAST pick as a junior.
Padgett’s basketball bloodlines run deep as his father played at the University of Nevada and his uncle played at New Mexico. His grandfather Jim played for Oregon State and his sister played for the University of San Diego.
Padgett and his wife, Megan, welcomed their first child Nolan in August 2013.