Tennessee Basketball Staff Update

Tennessee basketball head coach Rick Barnes announced two updates related to his staff Tuesday.

Justin Gainey has been promoted to associate head coach, and Gregg Polinsky has been promoted to an assistant coach role after serving on the UT staff this season as a volunteer analyst.

ADVERTISINGIn Gainey’s first season with the program as an assistant coach, Tennessee spent the entire campaign ranked in the AP Top 25, ascending to a season-high of No. 5 in the postseason poll. The Vols logged four wins over teams ranked in the top 10, boasted the nation’s third-best defensive efficiency and saw guards Kennedy Chandler and Santiago Vescovi each earn All-SEC honors. Gainey handled lead scouting duties for UT’s victories over No. 6-ranked Arizona and No. 14-ranked Arkansas.

“Justin has been an outstanding addition to our program, and his presence and experience have benefited our players and staff alike,” Barnes said. “Just as he quickly earned the respect of everyone within our program, he’s earned this enhanced role through his steadiness, daily approach and work ethic.”

Gainey has held the title of associate head coach once previously, at Marquette in 2020-21 before joining the Tennessee program.

Polinsky fills the vacancy created when former associate head coach Michael Schwartz accepted the head coaching position at East Carolina last week. Schwartz became the fifth of Barnes’ Tennessee assistants to land a Division I head coaching job, joining Chris Ogden (Texas Arlington), Rob Lanier (Georgia State), Kim English (George Mason) and Desmond Oliver (ETSU).

A native of St. Louis, Missouri, Polinsky was a Division I head coach at Georgia Southern from 1995-99 before transitioning to a successful scouting and front office career in the NBA.

“GP added so much to our program this season,” Barnes said. “Elevating him into this role was an easy decision after observing the way he’s impacted our players and staff. His knowledge of the game is so extensive, and he’s spent a large chunk of his career in the NBA, which is the goal destination for most of today’s players. He understands what it takes to make it there—and, more importantly—have longevity there. GP is a world-class talent evaluator and an outstanding relationship builder. He fits the culture of our program perfectly.”

After serving in various scouting roles with the NBA’s Brooklyn Nets for 19 years—including tenures as chief scout and director of college scouting—Polinsky was hired by the Detroit Pistons as their director of player personnel in 2018 and held that position for three years.

Polinsky’s first foray into college coaching came as an assistant at Howard Junior College in Big Spring, Texas in the early 1980s. He then ascended to the Division I ranks—initially as a part-time coach and later as a full-time assistant—at Texas under Bob Weltlich.

Prior to the 1986-87 season, Polinsky accepted an assistant coaching position at Alabama—a job that opened when Barnes left Tuscaloosa for an assistant job at Ohio State. Polinsky spent nine years on staff at Alabama during the head coaching tenures of Wimp Sanderson and David Hobbs, eventually serving as associate head coach in his final year with the Crimson Tide in 1994-95.

Polinsky was a standout high school point guard at LaDue High School in St. Louis before beginning his collegiate playing career at New Mexico. He later transferred to Northern Arizona, where he completed his degree in Secondary School Education in 1981.

Polinsky and his wife, Cindy, have adult twin daughters, Abby and Brooke.


Tagged with: