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Rick Barnes emerging as a serious candidate for UCLA job

Barnes is reportedly the favorite now.

NCAA Basketball: NCAA Tournament-Colgate Raiders vs Tennessee Volunteers Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

The Tennessee Volunteers could be losing more than just their top-three players from this past season. They might also lose their head coach.

Evan Daniels of 247 Sports is reporting that Rick Barnes has emerged as a serious candidate in the UCLA Bruins’ head coaching search.

You might remember that John Calipari was mentioned in these rumors a little more than a week ago. The search has seemingly gone all over the place as we’ve heard the names Jamie Dixon, Mick Cronin, and Earl Watson, among others.

The Bruins parted ways with head coach Steve Alford early in the season and the aftermath has been nothing short of a mess. UCLA finished 17-16 this season, missing the NCAA Tournament for the second time in four seasons. And it’s been reported they offered Calipari less than what he makes now and they were unwilling to pay Dixon’s $8 million buyout at TCU.

Well, Barnes just signed an extension last fall that increased his buyout to $5 million.

Barnes was just recently named the 2019 Naismith Coach of the Year, after compiling a 31-6 record and earning a share of the SEC regular season title. The Vols also took a trip to the Sweet Sixteen this year. Through four years at UT, Barnes has an overall record of 88-50.

This could have a significant impact on this offseason’s coaching carousel, as well as the decision of Grant Williams to return to school or head to the NBA. The SEC has dominated the offseason with their coaching hirings, but this could be a big loss for the conference.

Barnes is a great coach, but I wouldn’t mind not seeing his face two to three times a year. He’s made life hard on the Kentucky Wildcats since he arrived in Knoxville.