Though Tennessee’s basketball season ended in disappointment, fans, media and opposite coaches are recognizing the job that Rick Barnes did with this roster. Barnes was named the Naismith Coach of the Year on Sunday, adding that award to his Coach of the Year honors that he received from the United States Basketball Writers Association last week.
Barnes took home the award over Texas Tech’s Chris Beard, Virginia’s Tony Bennett and Houston’s Kelvin Sampson.
“Rick Barnes has built an incredible program at Tennessee, and his coaching performance this season was worthy of the top award in college basketball, the Werner Ladder Naismith Trophy Men’s Coach of the Year,” said Eric Oberman, executive director of the Atlanta Tipoff Club. “We are honored to recognize Rick as the newest member of the Naismith Awards family.”
Barnes led Tennessee to a 31-6 record this season, staying inside of the AP Top 25 for the entire year. The Vols advanced to the championship game of the SEC Tournament for the second season in a row, while earning a No. 2 seed in the NCAA Tournament.
The Vols hit No. 1 in the AP Poll for just the second time in school history, maintaining the top spot for four consecutive weeks.
“To say the least, I’m honored. I’m humbled really,” said Barnes. “When you’re able to receive an award like the Werner Ladder Naismith Coach of the Year, you know it goes to your players and your assistant coaches.”
Thought Barnes couldn’t get this group over the hump, the job he’s done with this program over the last season has been nothing short of incredible. Depending on the decisions of point guard Jordan Bone and power forward Grant Williams, he may have a shot to make another special run next season.