Tony Barbee is returning to the coaching ranks, as Central Michigan is finalizing a deal to make the UK staff member its head coach.
Pete Thamel of Yahoo Sports was the first to break the news.
Sources: Kentucky assistant Tony Barbee expected to become the next coach at Central Michigan. He’s the former head coach at UTEP and Auburn.
— Pete Thamel (@PeteThamel) April 22, 2021
Multiple sources close to the UK program tell KSR that an official announcement is expected in the very near future.
Barbee, who just completed his seventh season at Kentucky and his first as the associate to the head coach in 2020-21, will replace Keno Davis at CMU after the school fired him back on April 5. Davis spent nine seasons with the Chippewas, leading the program to a 142-143 overall record with zero NCAA Tournament appearances. The team went 7-16 this past season, including 3-13 in conference play.
The new CMU head coach spent five seasons as a full-time assistant coach on Calipari’s staff and was a special assistant to the head coach in his first season at UK in 2014-15. As an associate to the head coach this past season, Barbee led the charge on game prep, scouting upcoming opponents, and helping Calipari with week-to-week practice and game breakdowns.
“Tony has been a part of my basketball family for over 20 years,” Calipari said back in 2014 when he brought Barbee on as a special assistant. “I’ve had the pleasure of watching him grow up and mature with this game since I started recruiting him when he was 16 years old. I’m thrilled with the knowledge and experience he brings to this program and our staff and am looking forward to working with him again.”
In his five seasons as a full-time assistant coach, Barbee is credited with landing commitments from the likes of Terrence Clarke, Tyrese Maxey, Keion Brooks Jr. and Nolan Hickman, among others.
Prior to his time at Kentucky, Barbee was previously the head coach at UTEP and Auburn, along with serving as a full-time assistant on Calipari’s staff at Memphis from 2001-06. Barbee also played for Calipari at UMass before joining his staff as a graduate assistant in 1995-96.
Second official domino to fall following Joel Justus’ departure, several more to follow.