Tennessee College Basketball Coach Rick Barnes Says His Goal Is Teaching Players to Be ‘Good Christian Men’

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 his 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.

Barnes has been a Christian for a long time but became more serious about his faith more than a decade ago, his children told the Knoxville News-Sentinel. His son, Nick, who is a missionary, said the family went from being cultural Christians to God-centered Christians.

“I mean, as the Scripture would say, [he] lived out a new creation, a new person – just much more peace, affection,” Nick told the newspaper. “He was a great dad. I had a wonderful childhood. But it’s just the anchor in his soul and just the perspective on life and work.

“I think the way he sees basketball now is not only win a lot of games, but get to pour into young guys and love on them. I think that was always there, but now to a much greater degree.”

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Source: Christian Headlines