For the first time since arriving in Knoxville, men’s basketball head coach Rick Barnes is a finalist for the 2018 Wooden Award - the NCAA’s award for the top basketball coach in the country.
This is awfully surprising, but also highly warranted, after the Vols were picked to finish 13th in the SEC during the preseason.
Barnes currently has the Vols tied for third in the SEC (13-5, 5-3) and they are on pace to enter the NCAA Tournament as a four-seed when play begins in March.
Not bad for the fifth-youngest team in the country that lacks a true big-man down low. Barnes also lost two of his top three scorers after the 2016 season.
Not bad at all.
You can check out the entire list of candidates here.