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Tennessee basketball hires Justin Gainey as new assistant coach

NCAA Basketball: Washington at Arizona Casey Sapio-USA TODAY Sports

The rumor of the weekend is now official — Justin Gainey is Tennessee’s newest assistant basketball coach. He comes over from Marquette, where he was the associate head coach.

Gainey made things official today.

The former point guard at N.C. State reportedly interviewed for a position with Xavier before accepting the job at Tennessee. He joins Rod Clark on staff, who came over from Austin Peay last week. Clark and Gainey will replace Kim English and Desmond Oliver, who both landed head coaching jobs this offseason.

“I coached against Justin when he was the point guard at NC State,” Tennessee head coach Rick Barnes said. “He was an incredibly tough competitor then, and he has that same tenacity now as a coach. Justin has a passion for on-court player development that fits well with our staff. Our players are going to love working with him to grow their game.

“He’s proven that he can recruit effectively nationwide, and we’re particularly excited about his ability to maintain our strong ties throughout the state of North Carolina.”

Gainey was at Marquette for three seasons. He also spent two seasons at Arizona, following stops at Santa Clara and Appalachian State.

The thing to watch now is Tennessee’s pursuit of Jonas Aidoo, a 2021 four-star center out of Charlotte. Aidoo was committed to Marquette, but decommitted during the coaching change that saw Shaka Smart become the head coach. Aidoo is now left with a decision to make, and Tennessee certainly needs a big or two. The 6-11, 215 pounder could fit that bill, and Gainey already has a strong connection established here.

Aidoo had Tennessee in his top ten at the end of last year, before trimming his list.

Tennessee is still waiting on a decision from John Fulkerson, but they’ll need at least one post player regardless, likely even two after the departure of Corey Walker Jr. last week.