After spending an apprentice season on John Calipari's first Kentucky staff, Padgett landed a full-time assistant job at Manhattan and he's enjoying it just as much as he always anticipated he would.
"I knew I wanted to be in coaching before I even came to Kentucky," Padgett said. "I think going through the process and being under the coaches I had been under further made me realize that, for sure, what I wanted to do (was coach)."
Padgett, Utah's first-round draft pick off the 1999 UK team, jumped onto the coaching course after eight seasons in the NBA. He said he's now drawing on the experiences of playing under a variety of coaches.
"I was lucky enough to be under guys like oach (Rick) Pitino (who recruited Padgett to UK out of Louisville St. Xavier High School), coach (Tubby) Smith, coach (Jerry) Sloan and Jeff Van Gundy -- who is one of the best X-and-O guys out there -- and even assistant wise, Tom Thibodeau, the Bulls' head coach. He was a great defensive-minded coach. (Also) Lawrence Frank, who is not as well known as the others. And add to that working with Coach Cal, I feel I have a lot to draw on and give me an ability to learn from all those people."
NCAA rules limit the number of on-the-floor coaches, so Padgett said he learned mostly through observation in his one season with Coach Calipari.
"I talked to him about wanting to get into the game of coaching and he did a great thing for me by allowing me to be on the staff and I learned a lot of things last year," Padgett said. "I didn't get to do a whole lot, but I got to learn. It was almost like I took a course in learning to coach. It gave me a great opportunity."
And what did Padgett learn from Calipari?
"I like the way he handled the kids," Padgett said. "We had some different-type personalities on the team and it could have clashed, but he found a way to get everyone on the same page, shooting for the common goal. If you would have said on day one that we would never have a problem on the team with the different personalities we had, I'd have thought you were crazy.
"He got them to believe in the team and made it a family atmosphere for the guys to where not only were they family amongst each other, but they were his family as well, and it is very impressive considering he did that with several of those guys in a year."
Not everything Padgett learned last season had to do with on-the-court parts of the makeup of a coach.
"There were a lot of behind-the-scene things that you take for granted as a player," Padgett said. "One of the things I thought Cal was phenomenal at was his marketing of a program. It is one of those things where you couldn't talk college basketball last year without somewhere in the conversation Kentucky coming up. It hadn't been like that in a while and I think a lot of that came back to the things he did.
"Getting two million people following him on Twitter (is an example). I never thought that Twitter would be something that was as interesting and successful as it was because you see the different things that go with it and I think he was very impressive to see his marketing of the program."
Padgett was also impressed with how Calipari carries himself as a leader.
"I think that with Coach Cal, he comes into a room and commands respect because he has a presence about him and that was from day one," Padgett said. "It was a great experience for me to be down there and learn different things from him and just be around him and see how he is towards people. Whether it is a superstar player or the fans or the media, he does a great job with dealing with people."
Once the season ended, Padgett started looking for opportunities to move up the college basketball ladder. There were positions like director of basketball operations open at some bigger name programs, but the chance to be an on-the-court coach at a mid-major program was more appealing to Padgett.
When Manhattan coach Barry Rohrssen had a slot to fill and called Calipari, the UK coach suggested Padgett. The deal was done soon after.
Padgett, his wife, Cynthia, and their three kids are enjoying living in the Big Apple. He does drive in that Manhattan traffic (a coach needs more flexibility of mobility than public transportation might provide), but it's only a 15-minute ride to the office.
The Manhattan traffic is all worth it to Padgett because of the Jaspers' potential this winter.
"We have seven new players," Padgett said. "We had a rough year last year but we brought in seven players that were from winning programs. We brought in two new coaches and are trying to bring a winning mentality in these players' heads to where every day you get better and every day you work hard. I think we have a shot to make the tournament and we have the talent to do it. (It all depends on) how well can we do like coach did last year at jelling a whole bunch of previous people with new people."
Manhattan is 2-8 going into this Saturday's game against Hofstra, so recruiting is obviously a key mission for the Jaspers in the upcoming seasons. Padgett is encouraged about their prospects.
"It has been great because up here there are so many kids that you can see," Padgett said. "When you get done with work at the end of the day, you can say 'Hey, I am going to go see a kid'. It is great because around here you've got Connecticut, New York, New Jersey and they are all so close and have good players. I can see a new player every day. I guess the hard part is at the end of the day, it is getting to the (person who is making decisions. We need to nail down the decision maker and that is the tough part."