The Tennessee Volunteers may have lost in the Sweet 16 of the NCAA Tournament, but their head coach was still able to bring home some hardware. Rick Barnes has been named the 2019 Naismith Coach of the Year.
It’s the first time Barnes has earned the award, and he’s also the first coach in Tennessee men’s basketball program history to be given this particular honor. Other finalists for this year’s award were Chris Beard (Texas Tech), Tony Bennett (Virginia) and Kelvin Sampson (Houston).
Tennessee finished with a 31-5 (15-3 SEC) overall record. At one point in the season, they spent four-consecutive weeks ranked No. 1 in the AP poll, and they finished with a program-record-tying three victories over top-five opponents and the second-most wins during a single season in program history.
In addition to Barnes’ coaching honor, a couple of their key players have also picked up individual awards. Grant Williams earned first-team All-American honors and was named the SEC Player of the Year for the second-consecutive season. Admiral Schofield was named as a member of the All-SEC first-team, while junior guard Jordan Bone earned second-team honors.
That’s good for the conference and all, but man, I hate that color. Plus, if I had to pick an SEC coach to win the award this year, I’d cast my ballot for Bruce Pearl, whose team won the SEC title and made it to the Final Four by beating three of the nation’s most-storied programs. What do you think?