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‘Team Game’: Rick Barnes Credits Family, Players, and Staff for Hall of Fame Nomination

Rick Barnes
Tennessee HC Rick Barnes. Photo via Tennessee Athletics.

Tennessee head coach Rick Barnes was quick to direct the attention elsewhere when asked about his Hall of Fame nomination on Thursday night.

Prior to the Vols’ home game against Tarleton State, Tennessee revealed that Barnes was one of the 36 North American nominees for the 2024 Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame class.

Barnes officially received the news from his granddaughter, Avery, while the team was in San Antonio for the Hall of Fame Series game against NC State. This is the first time that Barnes has appeared on the Hall of Fame nominee list.

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After Tennessee defeated Tarleton State by a score of 65-46 on Thursday night, Barnes was asked about his reaction to the Hall of Fame nomination. The ninth-year Tennessee head coach stated that he was blessed before distributing the credit to the people who have been around him during his 37 years of coaching.

“What it means, this is a team game and I’ve been blessed,” Barnes said about his nomination. “The good Lord has looked out for me for a long, long time. Even way back when probably was growing in trying to figure out how to be the head basketball coach. But it’s always been about the players, it’s always been about our staff. I’ve always tried to pride myself in hiring people that I thought was better than me. I think that when you’re in a leadership position, you got to be someone who’s going more learn something every day. And the way you do that, you surround yourself with great people.”

In 37 years of coaching – including the Vols current 9-3 record through 12 games – Barnes has racked up a 788-409 record between George Mason (1987-1988), Providence (88-94), Clemson (94-98), Texas (98-2015), Tennessee (2015-present). Barnes is a four-time Big 12 Coach of the Year, a one-time SEC Coach of the Year, and a one-time Naismith Coach of the Year (2018-2019).

“And obviously it’s not just your coaches, it’s everybody in the organization,” Barnes continued on to say. “And then my family. And they’ve stuck with me. I mean, I think I’ve what made ten moves over the years. And again, I’m just thankful that the good Lord, he’s blessed me in ways that I can’t even imagine. But anytime you’re involved in a team sport and you’re singled out for something, always goes back to being a team sport and all those that have helped you along the way and been there with you along the way. They’re as much a part of it as anybody.”

The Hickory, North Carolina native is already part of the North Carolina Hall of Fame (2023) and the Lenoir-Rhyne Hall of Fame (2002) but is looking to add the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame to his collection, as well.

The finalists for the class will be announced on Friday, Feb. 16 during NBA All-Star weekend with the 2024 inductees being announced on Saturday, April 6 during the Final Four.

Rick Barnes has a 184-95 record at Tennessee including Thursday’s win over Tarleton State.

The Tennessee basketball team will enjoy a quick break through Christmas and the New Year before returning to the court in Knoxville on Jan. 2 for their final matchup before SEC play against Norfolk State

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