Rod Barnes, former Naismith National Coach of the Year, enters his fourth season as the Georgia State University head coach.
In his first three years in Atlanta, Barnes has brought renewed energy to the Georgia State program while laying the groundwork for future success with recruiting and an emphasis on work ethic and fundamentals.
The positive influence that Barnes exerts on the Georgia State program is also evident off the court with strong academic performance, community outreach and media exposure.
The Panthers have performed extremely well in the classroom since Barnes' arrival. In three years, all 10 seniors who have completed their eligibility under Barnes have graduated.
The spring 2010 semester saw the Panthers post a best-ever team grade point average of 2.96, which raised the program's cumulative GPA to 2.76, also an all-time high. The team's GPA has been 2.76 or higher for the last four semesters.
Under Barnes, Ousman Krubally, Kevin Lott and Jihad Ali have received the Colonial Athletic Association Commissioner's Academic Award, and in 2009-10, Ali became the first Panther to be named to the CAA All-Academic team.
Barnes, who spent eight years as the head coach at the University of Mississippi, was tabbed by the Georgia State administration on March 19, 2007, after one year as an assistant coach at the University of Oklahoma.
He was honored as the Naismith Coach of the Year as well as the Southeastern Conference Coach of the Year in 2000-01, when he led Ole Miss to its most successful season ever. His squad set a school-record for wins with a 27-8 record, advanced to the NCAA Sweet 16 for the only time in school history and achieved a final national ranking of No. 9 in the USA Today/ESPN coaches' poll.
Barnes, 44, is a 21-year veteran of college coaching who has averaged 16 wins per year in 11 seasons as a head coach, posting a record of 174-170. The former All-Southeastern Conference player at Ole Miss holds the distinction of being the only person in SEC history to earn All-SEC honors as a player and then be named SEC Coach of the Year.
TOOK OVER GEORGIA STATE PROGRAM IN 2007-08
Barnes took over the Georgia State program in 2007-08, and despite inheriting an undermanned squad in his first season, he made the Panthers competitive in virtually every game by stressing effort and defense. State's 9-21 record was deceiving because Barnes' charges suffered 10 losses by five points or fewer, including six defeats that came down to the final possession.
The highlight of Barnes' first season was a stunning upset of conference champion and NCAA Tournament participant George Mason. His first Georgia State squad featured a top-five scorer in the CAA in guard Leonard Mendez and a top-five rebounder in forward Rashad Chase. Mendez earned third-team all-conference honors to become the Panthers' first all-CAA selection.
In 2008-09, Georgia State posted a 12-20 record but won five of its last seven games, with the only losses coming to Colonial Athletic Association champion and NCAA Tournament team VCU. State's 8-10 record in the CAA and eighth-place finish in league play represent its best showing in five seasons in the league, and the Panthers earned victories over three of the top five teams in the standings in Old Dominion, Northeastern and Hofstra.
The Panthers also posted a 12-20 record in 2009-10 but suffered five CAA losses by five points or fewer while facing the league's most difficult slate. Senior guard Joe Dukes earned all-CAA honors for the second straight year, giving the Panthers an all-conference performer in each of Barnes' three seasons. Most importantly, every one of Barnes' six seniors earned his degree.
FOUR POSTSEASON TRIPS AT OLE MISS
Barnes compiled a 141-109 record in eight seasons at Ole Miss (1998-2006), guiding the Rebels to four postseason bids, including three appearances in the NCAA Tournament.
While producing three 20-win seasons, Barnes reached the 100-win plateau in just five seasons, faster than any coach in school history.
He also spent five seasons as an assistant coach at Ole Miss under Rob Evans before being elevated to head coach on April 9, 1998.
Barnes made an immediate impact at the helm as his first Ole Miss squad recorded the first NCAA Tournament win in school history with a 1999 first-round victory over Villanova. Two years later, the Rebels picked up NCAA Tournament wins over Iona and Notre Dame to reach the Sweet 16 for the first and only time in Ole Miss history.
In addition to coaching the only three NCAA Tournament victories in school history, Barnes was part of five of the six NCAA appearances in Ole Miss annals as head or assistant coach, and he was on the bench for five of the school's first seven 20-win seasons. The Rebels captured the SEC West division title three times during his 13 seasons in Oxford.
Barnes coached the two teams that scored the most points in Ole Miss history with the 1998-99 team totalling 2,540 points and the 2000-01 team putting up 2,496 points.
His accomplishments were also evident in his selection as an assistant coach for the 2001 USA Basketball team that competed in the World University Games in Beijing, China.
During his tenure as head coach, four Rebel players garnered all-conference recognition, including 2001 all-American Rahim Lockhart. Several of his players earned professional basketball opportunities, including 2004 National Basketball Association draft pick Justin Reed. Barnes tutored another future NBA standout, Ansu Sesay, as an Ole Miss assistant coach.
Barnes began his coaching career as an assistant coach for three seasons (1990-93) at Livingston University, now known as the University of West Alabama, before returning to his alma mater in 1993.
Barnes was a four-year letterwinner at Ole Miss, playing for head coaches Lee Hunt and Ed Murphy. One of just two players in school history to score more than 1,000 points and have more than 400 assists, he was also the first Ole Miss player to collect 500 points, 100 rebounds and 100 assists in a season.
As a senior in 1988, he was an honorable mention all-American by The Sporting News while earning first-team all-SEC honors from the coaches as well as second-team accolades from Associated Press and third-team mention from United Press International.
Last winter, he was honored with his selection to the Ole Miss basketball All-Century team. Four players that Barnes coached during his tenure at Ole Miss also made the list: Ansu Sesay, Keith Carter, Rahim Lockhart and Justin Reed.
Barnes, who grew up on a farm in Satartia, Miss., led Bentonia High School to back-to-back state titles in 1982-83 while earning all-state honors three times.
He is a 1988 graduate of Mississippi with a degree in business management.
Barnes is married to the former Bridgett Davis and has three sons, Brandon, Bray and stepson Corey. Brandon is a redshirt-freshman basketball player at Lipscomb University.
ROD BARNES' COACHING CAREER, YEAR-BY-YEAR
At Georgia State: 33-61 (3 Years)
Overall: 174-170 (11 Years)
Rod Barnes' distinguished coaching career includes these accomplishments and numbers:
• 2001 Naismith National Coach of the Year
• 2001 Southeastern Conference Coach of the Year
• Only person in SEC history to be named both All-SEC as a player and SEC Coach of the Year.
• Compiled a head coaching record of 141-109 (.564) in eight seasons in the SEC.
• Earned four postseason bids as head coach, advancing to NCAA Sweet 16 in 2001.
• Finished No. 9 in the final USA Today/ESPN poll in 2001, the highest finish in Ole Miss history.
• Produced three 20-win seasons, including school-record 27 wins in 2001.
• Won 100 games in five-year span (1998-03), the only coach in Ole Miss history to do so
• Served as assistant coach for the 2001 USA Basketball team at the World University Games (in Beijing, China).
• An assistant coach for two 20-win seasons and SEC West Championship teams at Ole Miss prior to being named head coach.
• In 13 seasons at Ole Miss, teams had seven winning seasons, he was part of five NCAA bids, two NIT bids and three SEC West title.
• He coached the two teams that scored the most points in Ole Miss history with the 1998-99 team scoring 2,540 points and the 2000-01 team putting up 2,496 points.
• His winning percentage is the best ever among Ole Miss coaches with five or more years and his 141 wins in eight years are four shy of the school record of B. L. Graham (145-169).
As a basketball player, Barnes also showed his excellence:
• As senior at Ole Miss in 1987-88, he was All-SEC and honorable mention All-America pick. He was a unanimous All-SEC choice and finished third in Player of the Year balloting. His senior totals included 551 points (19.0), 121 rebounds (4.2) and 112 assists (3.9).
• First player in Ole Miss history to collect 500 points, 100 rebounds and 100 assists in a season.
• Started 86 consecutive games over final three seasons at Ole Miss and played in 103 games. Career totals included 1,201 points (11.7 per game) and 456 assists.
• His 4.4 career assist average is third best in school history.
• Shot 84.1 percent from free throw line as a senior to rank among SEC leaders and post the sixth best total in school history. He shot 80.7 as a sophomore.
• Three-time all-state high school player at Bentonia High (Miss.) with two state titles.
What Coach Barnes is Saying:
"I like what I see here with a large number of returning players. They need to understand the little things it takes to win consistently. We will add more pieces and be ready to compete right away. If I didn't think I could win more than I lose here, I would not have accepted."
"My teams play with energy on both ends of the basketball court. My emphasis will always be on defense. I'll tell them that when the other team gets off the bus, someone should be guarding them, and I don't mean the security guards. You have to play defense to win ball games."
"Perhaps the biggest challenge today is for the present athletes to accept me because things will be different. They have to make that transition. It looks like we have enough physical talent on our roster to win now. I did not accept this job as a temporary job. I think I can build this to one of the better programs in the Colonial Athletic Association and the country."
What Others are Saying:
"Rod Barnes has been a very successful head coach and was national coach of the year. His basketball knowledge, his ability to recruit and the fact that he’s a great human being will bring a lot to our program," said Oklahoma head coach Jeff Capel (2006). "I’ve always had a lot of respect for Coach Barnes. His teams were always very good defensively. They got after you, they were tough, they were disciplined and they played with passion."
"Rod Barnes came to Ole Miss as a young, thin freshman. Many people questioned whether he could play Southeastern Conference basketball. He became an All-Southeastern Conference player and the physical, spiritual and moral leader of his team, " said University of Mississippi Chancellor Robert C. Khayat. "He is a person we have known for many years and admired him, a person who has made incredible contributions to this University."