KNOXVILLE, Tenn. -- Tennessee basketball coach Donnie Tyndall announced the hiring of three members of his support staff Friday, completing his full-time staff.
J.T. Burton was named Director of Player Development. Beau Braden was named Video Coordinator, and R.J. Rush was appointed Special Assistant to the Head Coach.
All three additions have previous experience either playing for or working alongside Tyndall.
“Although the ‘coaches’ often get the bulk of the credit for a program’s success, there are always several hard-working people behind the scenes who are vital to achieving excellence, developing student-athletes and competing for championships,” Tyndall said. “Putting the right people in these key support staff roles is extremely important to me, and I feel very confident that J.T., Beau and R.J. bring all the right traits to our Tennessee basketball family.
“Looking at this staff as a whole, there is no doubt in my mind that we will accomplish great things. We certainly will never be outworked.”
J.T. BURTON – Director of Player Development
J.T. Burton was hired by Tennessee head basketball coach Donnie Tyndall in May 2014 as the program’s Director of Player Development. Their relationship dates to 1996, when Tyndall was a rookie head coach at St. Catharine College and Burton was a point guard on that team.
Burton is a native of Springfield, Ky. Key among his several responsibilities as the Volunteers’ Director of Player Development is his role of academic liaison to UT’s Thornton Athletics Student Life Center.
Burton – who boasts more than 15 years of basketball coaching experience – followed in Tyndall’s footsteps and spent the last six years as head coach at St. Catharine College. His final season there resulted in a quarterfinal appearance at the 2014 NAIA Division I Men’s Basketball Championship, a 20-13 record and a year-end national ranking of No. 18.
As a head coach, Burton accumulated close to 100 wins and posted three 20-win seasons.
“J.T. is one of my former players, and I’ve known him for close to 20 years now. His loyalty is second to none,” Tyndall said. “He’s proven himself to be a great head coach. His tireless work ethic and his ability to connect with student-athletes are going to be tremendous assets for our program.
“J.T. is like a son to me, and I’m very fortunate and honored that he was willing to give up a head coaching position to be a part of our basketball family here at Tennessee.”
Burton began his coaching career with back-to-back one-year stints as an assistant coach at St. Catharine College and Marshalltown (Iowa) Community College in 1999-2000 and 2000-01, respectively.
He later accepted a position as assistant boys’ basketball coach at Washington County High School in Springfield, Ky. After one season, he was named head coach of the school’s girls’ basketball team, a role he held from 2003-2007. His WCHS girls’ teams averaged 17 wins per season, and he led Washington County to a quarterfinal appearance at the 2005 KHSAA state tournament.
Prior to the 2007-08 campaign, Burton returned to St. Catharine as an assistant coach, and he was handed the head coaching reins just one year later. He was named Mid-South Conference Coach of the Year in 2011 after leading the Patriots to an overall record of 24-10 and a conference mark of 16-5. That 2010-11 squad reached the NAIA National Tournament and ascended as high as No. 14 in the national rankings.
Burton was a guard at St. Catharine College from 1995-1997 when it was a two-year institution (now a four-year school). He was a member of Tyndall’s 1996-97 Patriots squad that went 30-5 and became the first team in school history to advance to the National Junior College Tournament.
Burton received his Bachelor’s degree from Tennessee Wesleyan College in 1999 and later earned a Master’s degree in Special Education at Campbellsville University in 2005.
He and his wife, Carla, have two daughters, Alexis and Jada.
BEAU BRADEN – Video Coordinator
Beau Braden enters his first season as Tennessee’s video coordinator after spending the previous two years as an assistant coach at Morehead State.
This is Braden’s second stint working alongside first-year UT head coach Donnie Tyndall, as Braden served in the dual role of director of basketball operations and graduate manager during Tyndall’s sixth and final year as the Eagles’ head coach in 2011-12.
“Beau started his Division I coaching career as my graduate assistant at Morehead State,” Tyndall said. “While working together there, he proved himself as someone who eagerly accepted any and all responsibilities with absolutely no ego.
“He’s a dedicated, hard-working, young coach. With his willingness to be a true team player, he is going to continue to rise in the coaching profession.”
During Braden’s two seasons as a full-time assistant coach at Morehead State, the Eagles recorded 35 overall victories, 18 conference wins and posted a 20-win campaign in 2013-14.
Braden spent the first half of the 2011-12 season as MSU’s director of basketball operations and the second half as a graduate manager. He coordinated several administrative duties and all video operations during a season in which the Eagles won 18 games and finished third in the Ohio Valley Conference.
In 2010-11, he worked as an assistant coach under Tennessee’s current Director of Player Development J.T. Burton at St. Catharine College near Springfield, Ky. Focusing much of his efforts on recruiting, scouting, individual instruction and academics, Braden helped guide the Patriots to a 24-9 record, an NAIA national tournament berth and three triumphs over eventual national champion Pikeville.
Braden’s first collegiate staff experience came as a graduate assistant and junior varsity coach at Georgetown College in Georgetown, Ky., during the 2009-10 campaign. The Tigers posted a 27-6 record that season, captured the Mid-South Conference Tournament championship and earned an NAIA national tournament berth.
A native of Louisville, Ky., Braden played basketball at Centre College in Danville, Ky., for four seasons and was a two-time team captain. The Colonels were 92-21 during his playing career, and they posted a 25-3 record and ascended as high as No. 2 in the national rankings during his junior season.
He was part of three Southern Collegiate Athletic Conference championship teams and played in three NCAA Division III national tournaments.
Braden received his Bachelor’s degree in Government and Economics from Centre in 2009, and he is currently working toward a Master’s degree in Sports Management from Morehead State.
R.J. RUSH – Special Assistant to the Head Coach
R.J. Rush accompanied head basketball coach Donnie Tyndall to Knoxville after spending two years on Tyndall’s staff at Southern Miss. In his first year at Tennessee, Rush holds the title of Special Assistant to the head coach.
“R.J. is a bright young coach who has a great ability to positively impact our players and our program,” Tyndall said. “As my graduate assistant for two years at Southern Miss, he proved himself invaluable in many different ways. He’ll play a key role in our success here at Tennessee because of the relentless work ethic and ambition he possesses.”
A native of Moon Township, Pa., Rush was a graduate assistant at Southern Miss during the 2013-14 campaign. He had previously served as the Eagles’ video coordinator in 2012-13.
During Rush’s two seasons on staff in Hattiesburg, Southern Miss posted a 56-17 overall record, including a 25-7 mark in Conference USA games. The 2013-14 squad captured a share of the regular-season Conference USA championship and won a school-record 29 games.
Rush was a forward on the men’s basketball team at Slippery Rock University for three seasons from 2008-11. The Rock earned a bid to the NCAA Division II Tournament when Rush was a senior in 2011.
He played basketball at Pittsburgh-Titusville during the 2007-08 season after a standout career as a two-sport athlete at Moon Area High School in Robinson Township, Pa. Rush helped lead Moon to three consecutive WPIAL championship game appearances and a PIAA quarterfinal berth during his senior season.
Rush earned his Bachelor’s degree in Accounting from Slippery Rock in 2011 and later received his Master’s degree in Sports Management from Southern Miss in 2014.
(E-mail Larry Fleming at email@example.com and follow him on Twitter @larryfleming44)