Teaching Players to Be ‘Good Christian’ Men Is Tennessee Coach Rick Barnes’ Goal
Tennessee head coach Rick Barnes has guided his veteran team to the No. 1 ranking in college basketball, but he wants his players to finish their careers keeping sports in perspective.
I hope we’ve taught these guys how to grow up and be good Christian guys, men,” Barnes, who is known for this faith, told the media this week. “[We] want to understand that this is all kind of fleeting, so we’ve just got to take advantage of it while it’s here.”
Barnes’ team has been one of the surprises in college basketball the past two seasons. The Volunteers were picked to finish 13th in the Southeastern Conference during the 2017-18 season but tied for the championship and advanced to the NCAA Tournament for the first time in four seasons. Tennessee began this season as a Top 10 team and climbed to the top spot thanks in part to a win over then-No. 1 Gonzaga.
Two of his players – junior Grant Williams and senior Admiral Schofield – are on the Top 25 watch list for the Wooden national player of the year award.
Prior to arriving at Tennessee, Barnes coached Providence, Clemson and then Texas, where he led two teams to the Elite Eight and a third team to the Final Four. He coached future NBA players Kevin Durant, T.J. Ford and D. J. Augustin.