Tennessee’s Rick Barnes named Naismith National Coach of the Year

ST LOUIS, MO - MARCH 09: Rick Barnes the head coach of the Tennessee Volunteers gives instructions to his team against the Mississippi Bulldogs during the quarterfinals round of the 2018 SEC Basketball Tournament at Scottrade Center on March 9, 2018 in St Louis, Missouri. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)

MINNEAPOLIS — During its annual Naismith Awards Brunch at the Final Four Sunday in Minneapolis, the Atlanta Tipoff Club announced that Tennessee’s Rick Barnes is the winner of the 2019 Werner Ladder Naismith Men’s Coach of the Year Award.

Barnes was the runner-up for the award last season. He becomes the first Tennessee men’s coach to win the award, adding to the five honors held by legendary Lady Vols head coach, the late Pat Summitt.

Barnes was chosen by the Atlanta Tipoff Club’s national voting academy, comprised of leading journalists from around the country, current and former head coaches, former award winners and conference commissioners, all of whom base their selections on outstanding coaching performances during the 2018-19 college basketball season. Additionally, fans contributed to five percent of the total vote.

“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,” Atlanta Tipoff Club Executive Director Eric Oberman said. “We are honored to recognize Rick as the newest member of the Naismith Awards family.”

It is the second national coach of the year honor for Barnes this season, as the USBWA previously named him the “overwhelming” winner of its 2019 Henry Iba Award.

During Sunday’s brunch, Barnes was presented with the Werner Ladder Naismith Coach of the Year commemorative trophy designed by nationally acclaimed sculptor Brian Hanlon. The bronze trophy features Dr. James Naismith, inventor of the sport of basketball, holding the original peach basket and ball used to play the first game.

Barnes edged out three other Naismith Coach of the Year finalists in Chris Beard (Texas Tech), Tony Bennett (Virginia) and Kelvin Sampson (Houston).

“Rick Barnes and his fellow finalists have led their teams to great seasons, and each of them has impacted the sport of basketball through their coaching and strong leadership,” WernerCo. Vice President of Brand Marketing Stacy Gardella said. “We are excited to honor Rick as the Werner Ladder Naismith Men’s College Coach of the Year for his dedication to his team and college basketball.”

Sunday’s Naismith award caps an impressive honors haul for Barnes over the last two seasons, during which he’s guided the Volunteers to a 57-15 overall record and established Tennessee as a mainstay in the top 20.

This season, Barnes led the Big Orange to a school-record-tying 31 wins and a school-record 19-game win streak. For the first time in program history, Tennessee spent the entire season ranked in the top 10, and the Vols occupied the No. 1 spot in both major polls for four consecutive weeks.

Tennessee scored more than 3,000 points for the first time in program history and also set single-season records for assists (661) and blocks (199).

Outstanding player development has been a pillar of the program during Barnes’ four years on Rocky Top, and 2018-19 was no exception.

Former three-star recruit Grant Williams repeated as SEC Player of the Year and garnered consensus first-team All-America acclaim after overcoming consistent double-teams to post career-bests in scoring (18.8 ppg), rebounding (7.5 rpg), assists (3.2 apg), steals (1.1 spg) and field-goal percentage (.565).

Williams also was present at Sunday’s Naismith Awards Brunch, as he was one of four finalists for the Naismith Trophy Men’s National Player of the Year Award. Other finalists were Gonzaga’s Rui Hachimura, Murray State’s Ja Morant and Duke’s Zion Williamson. Williamsson won the Naismith Trophy.

Senior wing Admiral Schofield—another former three-star prospect—earned honorable mention All-America status and first-team All-SEC honors after averaging career-highs in scoring (16.5 ppg), 3-pointers made (74) and 3-point percentage (.418).

Junior point guard Jordan Bone dished out 215 assists this season after totaling 190 in his first two seasons combined. His 2.91 assist/turnover ratio led the SEC. Bone entered this season with a 7.3 ppg scoring average and nearly doubled that by averaging 13.5 ppg in 37 games.

The Vols concluded their season last week in the Sweet Sixteen round of the NCAA Tournament. It was Barnes’s seventh career Sweet Sixteen appearance, and in doing so, he became just the 12th head coach to lead at least three different Division I programs to the Round of 16.

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