10. Justin Gainey replaces Desmond Oliver as assistant coach
One of Rick Barnes’ most loyal assistants, Desmond Oliver has been with Tennessee basketball since Barnes was hired in 2015. At age 51, after nearly 30 years as an assistant, he is finally getting a head coaching job, right up the road with the ETSU Bucs, who hired him on April 5.
Oliver’s experience with UT, the Charlotte 49ers and the Georgia Bulldogs should help him in the area, and everybody on Rocky Top should with him nothing but the best. Being with the Vols since Barnes arrived makes his departure a much bigger deal than the departure of Kim English, who was only on Barnes’ staff for two years.
That difference is enough for us to put Oliver’s departure ahead of three transfers and three spots ahead of English’s departure. His replacement is another big deal, as Barnes brought in a guy who, like Oliver, has tons of years of experience rather than an up and comer. Justin Gainey heads to Knoxville after coaching the Marquette Golden Eagles in 2020-2021.
Gainey brings 15 years of experience at the Division I level to Rocky Top. A former N.C. State Wolfpack point guard, Gainey is a great offensive and perimeter coach. He has coached all over the country too, so his national ties will be a big deal in recruiting. His arrival also puts this higher than the other coaching change, and it affected a recruiting story that will be even higher on this list.