Evan Daniels of 247Sports is reporting this evening that Tennessee head coach Rick Barnes has now “emerged as a serious candidate in UCLA’s head coaching search,” according to multiple sources. Barnes was just named the 2019 Naismith Coach of the Year.
While the UCLA coaching search has been well-documented thanks to the several coaches who have turned the Bruins down or withdrawn their name from consideration (plus UCLA’s unwillingness to pay Jamie Dixon’s buy-out from TCU), pulling Rick Barnes would be a wild turn of events.
— Evan Daniels (@EvanDaniels) April 7, 2019
Barnes has done a really great job at Tennessee, building them up to a top-10 team this season after a strong year last season. However, the roster will be losing some key pieces going into next season. Barnes did just sign an extension with the Volunteers in September that’ll theoretically keep him in Knoxville through the 2023-24 season. The renewed contract makes him the second-highest paid coach in the SEC, as well as the 10th-highest paid coach in the country.
While Rick Barnes clearly has not accepted the job as of this point, it will be really interesting to see how this storyline develops over the next few days. When John Calipari’s name was brought up in relation to the UCLA opening, he immediately tweeted about his desire to stay with Kentucky for the rest of his career. This move for Barnes could have an affect on Tennessee’s NBA Draft decisions as well, as some players may not want to return for an extra year under a brand new coach (cough cough, Grant Williams and Jordan Bone).
Time will tell, but I’d bet the people in Knoxville (Clay Travis included) are shaking in their bright orange overalls with this report.