Breaking news: Tennessee’s young star Jordan Gainey Announce his resignation and departure from the team earlier today due to…

Jordan Gainey had not logged a single official minute as a Volunteer before being thrown into the fire.


The Big Orange traveled to Michigan State to play a charity exhibition and with All-SEC guards Santiago Vescovi and Zakai Zeigler both unavailable, Gainey found himself starting – and finishing – in a true road atmosphere that felt more like a February conference game than a preseason exhibition.


Tennessee jumped out to an early lead, but MSU clawed its way back into the game, aided by a raucous home crowd. The Spartans scavenged a loose ball and found A.J. Hoggard for a game-tying three with 3.9 seconds left. The Breslin Center erupted.


The Vols did not panic. Gainey took the inbound pass and darted for the left wing, looking to beat the clock and become the hero of his first Tennessee game. Before he could, a scrambling Spartan defender bumped him off his spot. He was headed to the free throw line with one second remaining.


Roughly 25 feet away, his father sat frozen, right next to head coach Rick Barnes.


“That was the first time we had been through it,” associate head coach Justin Gainey said. While Jordan was adjusting to playing basketball as a Volunteer, Justin was learning first-hand what coaching his son entails.


“I couldn’t even watch those free throws,” he joked.


Jordan made one of two at the line to seal an 89-88 victory and cap a 20-point, six-assist debut in orange and white. Justin has since adjusted to the added emotions that come with coaching your son.

For a father-son duo, their on-court styles have never been all that similar. “He’s a much better scorer than I ever was,” said Justin, an accomplished point guard at NC State from 1996-2000. He left the Wolfpack tied for fourth in career steals and ninth in career assists. “I tried to get [Jordan] to play point guard growing up, but he loved scoring and playing off the ball.”


One knack they both have, however, is the relentless hunger to improve. Early mornings, long film sessions and multiple practices are regular occurrences in the Gainey household, with a shared goal of being the very best at what they do.


Justin arrived at Rocky Top from Marquette in 2021 as an assistant coach. The next year, associate head coach and defensive coordinator Mike Schwartz took a head coaching job at East Carolina, the fourth UT assistant to do so since 2019. The standards for Schwartz’s successor were sky-high; Tennessee had spent the last two years in the top five in defensive efficiency and in the top 15 in turnovers forced.