Monday, April 7, 2008

Coaching Trees Bloom in the Spring

The Rick Barnes coaching tree has now officially reached two, as assistant coach Ken McDonald was named the head coach of Western Kentucky, replacing Darrin Horn, who took over at South Carolina. McDonald, who has been with Barnes as a player and a coach, became the second coach to leave Barnes' staff, following Frank Haith who left for Miami, three years ago.

McDonald has had a long history with Barnes, first as a player at Providence, then for four years as an assistant on Barnes' Clemson staff. He then moved on to Western Kentucky as an assistant there for two years, before rejoining Barnes at Texas, where he spent the last four seasons.

Known as a good recruiter, McDonald will try to continue and build on the success that Horn experienced at Western Kentucky, building the program into a emerging mid-major. They peaked this season as they reached the Sweet 16, before a frantic comeback fell short against #1 seed UCLA. After that success as well as developing an NBA talent in Courtney Lee, Horn decided it was time to cash in and moved on to South Carolina.

McDonald inherits a program that has already established itself, but one that will have to endure a bit of a downturn next season. Western Kentucky will lose Courtney Lee and Tyrone Brazelton, their two best players from the past season. They also lose Ty Rogers, another starter and solid role player. The Hilltoppers also graduate three players off their bench. While McDonald loses a majority of his new team, they have some young talent and has some great momentum to recruit off of.

Texas will most likely fill McDonald's position from within. The front runner for the position is former Longhorn Chris Ogden who has been the video coordinator for the past two years. However, it is possible that Ogden could go with McDonald or that Barnes looks to fill the position from outside the program.

McDonald has the potential to be successful at Western Kentucky, and use the program in a similar manner as Darrin Horn. If he can continue to win over the next four or five years he should be able to move on to an even better program.

With the success of this past season, Frank Haith looks ready to turn the corner at Miami, and continue to improve in a conference looking for a consistent #3 and #4 team. With the shape of the Western Kentucky program, McDonald and Haith look ready to make the Barnes coaching tree a successful one.

Had to use that picture again somehow.

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