Tennessee's head coach Rick Barnes was awarded the Henry IBA Award by the U.S. Basketball Writers Association on Monday, recognizing him as its national coach of the year.
It's the first time he's won the award, and the first time a Tennessee coach has won it as well, according to the organization's website.
Barnes said he was honored by the award, but couldn't take all the credit.
"I think that when coaches get awards that it goes directly back to their players and their staff, because we all know that it's a team effort and we are in it together," he said at his Monday press conference. "It's truly an honor, a personal honor, but it wouldn't have happened without my other coaches. I think I have the best coaching staff in the country. And obviously what the players do, that's what it comes down to for the success we have had."
Barnes is the first SEC coach to win the award since 2003, according to USBWA, when Tubby Smith of Kentucky was given the honor.
Only five SEC coaches have ever won the award: Barnes, Smith (2003), Cliff Ellis of Auburn (1999), Eddie Fogler of Vanderbilt (1993) and Adolph Rupp of Kentucky (1966) – since the award began in 1959.
The award is based on regular-season performance, USBWA said, but it did note the team's impressive post-season wins.
"Barnes' guidance helped keep Tennessee ranked among the top 10 in both national polls throughout the season that included sitting at No. 1 in the polls for four weeks at the end of the record win streak," USBWA wrote on its website. "Led by Oscar Robertson Trophy finalist and first-team All-American Grant Williams, Tennessee finished second in the Southeastern Conference with a 15-3 record and a 29-5 finish to the regular season."
Barnes was up against three of the last four winners of the award for consideration: Tony Bennett of Virginia (won in 2018, 2015, and at Washington State in 2007) and Mark Few (2017, Gonzaga).
Houston's Kelvin Sampson (1995 at Oklahoma) was also on the shortlist, along with Chris Beard (Texas Tech), Matt Painter (Purdue), and Mike Young (Wofford).
Why exactly did they choose him? The website noted the team's impressive record 19-game win streak, how Barnes helped Williams repeat as SEC Player of the Year, a rare feat in its own, and coaching Admiral Schofield and Jordan Bone to All-SEC honors in one season, the website said.
What exactly is the award? "The Henry IBA Award is named in honor of the legendary coaching great at Oklahoma A&M (now Oklahoma State) who won two NCAA championships and two gold medals and one silver as coach of the U S. Olympic teams," USBWA said.
And USBWA? The organization "was formed in 1956 at the urging of then-NCAA Executive Director Walter Byers. With some 900 members worldwide, it is one of the most influential organizations in college basketball. It has selected an All-America team since the 1956-57 season," according to its website.
Barnes will be honored at USBWA College Basketball Awards Dinner at the Missouri Athletic Club in St. Louis on April 15. Public tickets for the dinner are $150 per person and include dinner, drinks and parking in the MAC garage.
Barnes is also a finalist for the Naismith Trophy for Men's Coach of the Year.
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