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Rick Barnes

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5 out of 5

Head Basketball Coach of the Tennessee Volunteers

Rick Barnes

Speaker RatingSpeaker RatingSpeaker RatingSpeaker RatingSpeaker Rating
5 out of 5

Head Basketball Coach of the Tennessee Volunteers

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Texas, USA
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Rick Barnes Biography

Tennessee’s fortunes on the hardwood have never looked brighter, as Rick Barnes, the most decorated and accomplished head coach in school history, has led the Volunteers to new heights in his seven seasons on Rocky Top. The 2022-23 campaign will be his eighth at Tennessee and his 36th as a head coach.

Barnes was the 2019 Naismith College Coach of the Year after guiding Tennessee to a school-record-tying 31 wins and a Sweet Sixteen appearance in 2018-19. The Vols also authored a program-record 19-game win streak, logged three wins over top-five opponents and spent a month ranked atop both major top-25 polls.

Tennessee spent the entire 2018-19 season ranked in the top 10 and earned a year-end ranking of No. 5 in the coaches’ poll. That team set single-season school records for assists and blocks and was the first UT team to score more than 3,000 points.

In 2021-22, the Vols once again spent the entire season ranked in the top 25—ascending to a high of No. 5 in the postseason poll. Barnes guided those Vols to the program’s first SEC Tournament championship in 43 years.

“Rick has built an incredible culture within our men’s basketball program that has spread throughout Vol Nation,” Director of Athletics Danny White said after announcing a contract extension for Barnes in March of 2022. “I’ve had a blast watching the best fanbase in the country embrace this team and create the most electric environment in college basketball. Coach Barnes’ leadership is steady, and his players exude high character. They take pride in representing our university and the state of Tennessee with class and an unrivaled competitive drive.

“I can't overstate how fortunate we are to have Rick Barnes leading our program. I am unbelievably excited about our bright future as we chase future championships on the hardwood.”

Over the past five seasons, Barnes—who is under contract through 2026-27—has directed the Big Orange to a 119-46 record, and the Vols have made four straight NCAA Tournament appearances. Three times during that span, Tennessee has finished among the top 10 nationally in KenPom’s defensive efficiency ratings (sixth in 2018, fourth in 2021 and third in 2022).

The Vols authored a school-record streak of 35 straight appearances in the AP Top 25 poll from 2018 through 2019. Through Barnes’ first seven seasons in Knoxville, Tennessee has spent 73 total weeks in the AP Top 25, including 27 weeks in the top 10.

Additionally, a McDonald’s All-American has signed with Tennessee for four straight years—Josiah-Jordan James in 2019, Jaden Springer in 2020, Kennedy Chandler in 2021 and Julian Phillips in 2022—bringing Barnes’ career total to 19.

The marriage of Barnes’ Hall of Fame-worthy résumé—highlighted by more than 750 career Division I head coaching wins, the sixth-most among active coaches—and Tennessee’s world-class facilities, fervent fan base and outstanding athletic and academic resources, clearly has the Vols poised to consistently compete for championships.

Tennessee was picked to finish 13th in the 14-team SEC prior to the 2017-18 campaign, but Barnes and his staff not only guided the Big Orange to the 2018 regular-season SEC Championship, but also to the title game of the SEC Tournament, a No. 3 seed in the NCAA Tournament and a 26-9 record.

Barnes was named the 2018 SEC Coach of the Year and was runner-up for Naismith National Coach of the Year after Tennessee became one of only eight “Power Five” teams to increase its overall wins total by 10 or more games from 2016-17. The Vols also were one of only eight “Power Five” programs to win at least 13 games away from home in 2017-18, leading to a year-end RPI of No. 10 while playing the 11th-toughest schedule in the country.

Several of Barnes’ players have collected hardware in recent years. First-round NBA Draft Pick Grant Williams earned unanimous consensus first-team All-America status in 2019 and became the first player since 1995 to be named SEC Player of the Year in back-to-back seasons.

Admiral Schofield claimed All-SEC honors each of his last two seasons, including first-team acclaim in 2019. Point guard Jordan Bone dished out 215 assists on his way to second-team All-SEC honors in 2019, and fellow guard Lamonté Turner was named the SEC Co-Sixth Man of the Year in 2018. Yves Pons in 2020 became the first Vol ever named SEC Defensive Player of the Year. And in 2022, All-SEC freshman point guard Chandler became just the second Vol ever to be named SEC Tournament MVP.

Schofield and Bone joined Williams as 2019 NBA Draft picks. And Pons, in 2021, became just the second Vol in school history to earn back-to-back SEC All-Defensive Team honors.

After Keon Johnson and Springer were each selected in the first round of the 2021 NBA Draft, Barnes' total number of one-and-done selections rose to seven. That duo also gave Tennessee five NBA Draft picks over a three-year span.

The 2018 Volunteers spent 14 straight weeks in national top-25 polls and finished the season ranked 13th in the Associated Press poll and 16th in the coaches’ poll. The team finished the season rated sixth nationally in defensive efficiency while leading the SEC in scoring defense (65.7 ppg) and assists per game (15.7).

In 2016-17, Barnes took an undersized roster that featured only three upperclassmen and exceeded preseason expectations, as well as the previous year’s overall and SEC win totals. Williams’ stellar play highlighted the collective contributions of the highest-scoring freshman class in program history (1,040 points). Freshmen led the 2016-17 team in nine different statistical categories and were responsible for 44 percent of the squad’s scoring.

In 2015-16, Barnes’ first Tennessee squad was undersized—with an average roster height of 6-4—but he guided those Volunteers to multiple wins over ranked teams and victories over traditional rivals Florida, Kentucky and Vanderbilt.

That season, Barnes personally worked with guard Kevin Punter Jr. on a complete mechanical overhaul of his jump shot, and that endeavor paid huge dividends for the senior, as Punter more than doubled his scoring average from his junior year and finished the season as the nation’s 13th-leading scorer with 22.2 points per game. Punter’s field-goal percentage also rose from .419 to .460 as he earned 2016 All-SEC honors.

In fitting with UT’s mantra of “comprehensive excellence,” Barnes’ commitment to his players’ academic achievement cannot be overstated. His teams have posted a perfect 1,000 score in five of the last six multi-year APR reports as well as perfect single-year APR scores every year from 2005-06 through 2014-15.

Immediately prior to Barnes’ arrival on Rocky Top, he oversaw a prolific, 17-year run at Texas that included 16 trips to the NCAA Tournament.

In 35 overall seasons as a Division I head coach, Barnes has led his teams to 26 total NCAA Tournament berths, seven Sweet Sixteens, three Elite Eights and one Final Four in 2003.

In 2019, he became just the third head coach ever to lead three different Division I programs to the Sweet Sixteen (Clemson, Texas and Tennessee).

He boasts coaching experience in the Southeastern Conference (Alabama assistant, 1985-86), Big 10 (Ohio State assistant, 1986-87), Colonial Athletic Association (George Mason head coach, 1987-88), Big East (Providence head coach, 1988-1994), Atlantic Coast Conference (Clemson head coach, 1994-98) and Big 12 (Texas head coach, 1998-2015).

His success on the sidelines is simply staggering. He coached Providence to three NCAA Tournament berths in six seasons. He then guided Clemson to the Big Dance three times in four years. And his 17-season stint at Texas featured 16 NCAA appearances.

Not only do his players find themselves perennially positioned to play for national championships, but they also carry themselves with a top-25 swagger. Barnes’ teams have spent 289 total weeks in the Associated Press Top 25, including 125 weeks in the Top 10. Tennessee spent four weeks at No. 1 in 2019—the longest stint atop the polls in program history. His Texas squad earned the program’s first-ever No. 1 national ranking on Jan. 11, 2010. And he had previously coached Clemson to a No. 2 national ranking—the highest in that school’s history—during the 1996-97 campaign.

On the flipside, Barnes has collected 120 career wins over top-25 opponents. And his squads have toppled top-10 teams a total of 45 times.

In his seven years at Tennessee, the Vols are 10-7 against rival Kentucky, 5-2 vs. the Wildcats in Knoxville and have three wins at Rupp Arena.

Nationally respected in player development, Barnes is one of only two coaches in the nation that can claim two different National Players of the Year in the last 19 seasons (T.J. Ford in 2003 and Kevin Durant in 2007). Barnes also has produced five consensus first-team All-Americans and three National Freshman of the Year honorees.

Barnes has coached 30 total NBA Draft picks, including 17 first-round selections—three of them Vols. And he has coached nine NBA champions who have combined to win 11 rings.

Durant—who has referred to Barnes as “more than a coach,” but also a “father figure”—was the No. 2 overall pick in the 2007 NBA Draft. Durant has won an NBA Most Valuable Player Award, four NBA scoring titles, the NBA Rookie of the Year Award, and is a two-time Olympic gold medalist and NBA Finals MVP.

Barnes was handed the reins to the Tennessee program on March 31, 2015.

In May of 2022, Barnes was selected as chair of the NCAA Men's Basketball Rules Committee after serving on the committee for multiple years.

A native of Hickory, N.C., Barnes was born on July 17, 1954. He was a standout player at Hickory High, from which he graduated in 1973. Barnes moved on to Lenoir-Rhyne College (Hickory, N.C.), where he lettered for three seasons and won the Captain’s Award for Leadership as both a junior and senior.

He was selected for induction into the North Carolina Sports Hall of Fame in 2023.

He earned a bachelor’s degree in health and physical education from Lenoir-Rhyne in 1977 and was named the college’s Distinguished Alumnus in 1997. Barnes was inducted into the Lenoir-Rhyne College Hall of Fame on Oct. 5, 2002, and received an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree from Lenoir-Rhyne on May 7, 2005.

Barnes has a history of generous charitable giving and service not only in his hometown, but also in every community in which he’s resided as a collegiate head coach. In East Tennessee, he plays an active role in supporting the Emerald Youth Foundation and sits on the Board of Trustees.

He and his wife, Candy—who is also a Hickory native—have a son, Nick, and a daughter, Carley. Carley and her husband, Josh Lickteig, have four children: Avery, Caleb, Emma and Isla. Nick and his wife, Rachel, have a son, Everett.

Rick Barnes Videos

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  • What topics does Rick Barnes speak about?

    Rick Barnes is a keynote speaker and industry expert whose speaking topics include Basketball, Coaching, Education, Health, Leadership, Motivation, Personal Growth, Sports.
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Rick Barnes is a keynote speaker and industry expert who speaks on a wide range of topics . The estimated speaking fee range to book Rick Barnes for your event is available upon request. Rick Barnes generally travels from TX, USA and can be booked for (private) corporate events, personal appearances, keynote speeches, or other performances. Similar motivational celebrity speakers are Pat Williams, Coach Ken Carter, Earvin “Magic” Johnson, Garrison Wynn and Vince Papale. Contact All American Speakers for ratings, reviews, videos and information on scheduling Rick Barnes for an upcoming live or virtual event.

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