As soon as Donnie Tyndall accepted the head coaching job at Tennessee, he targeted Al Pinkins to join the Volunteers’ full-time coaching staff. Tyndall and Pinkins were assistants together for three seasons at Middle Tennessee from 2003-06.
Considered among the brightest rising coaches in the profession, Pinkins is in his second year at Tennessee after spending the previous three seasons as an assistant on Andy Kennedy’s staff at Ole Miss. He was instrumental in the Rebels’ run to the 2013 SEC Tournament Championship and subsequent NCAA Tournament appearance.
A native of Camilla, Ga., Pinkins works closely with the Tennessee post players while also serving as the staff’s recruiting coordinator.
“Al and I worked together at Middle Tennessee State, and there’s not a better person in this profession,” Tyndall said. “He has great contacts throughout the Southeast. And, in my opinion, he’s one of the best recruiters in all of college basketball.”
In his first season with the Vols in 2014-15, Pinkins molded an undersized frontcourt—that featured three true freshmen and no players exceeding 215 pounds—into a unit that boasted a positive rebounding margin, ranked second in the SEC in rebounding defense and fourth in offensive rebounding.
Junior forwards Armani Moore and Derek Reese both more than doubled their scoring output from the season before Pinkins’ arrival. They were the team’s top-two rebounders, and Moore—standing just 6-foot-5—ranked among the top 10 in the SEC in total rebounding (8th), offensive rebounding (5th) and blocks (9th).
While at Ole Miss, Pinkins coached the program's all-time leading rebounder, Murphy Holloway, and all-time leading shot blocker, Reginald Buckner. Holloway was an All-SEC first-team selection in 2013, and Buckner earned SEC All-Defensive Team recognition that same year, as Ole Miss tied a school record with 27 wins.
In Pinkins' first season with the Rebels in 2011-12, he helped lead Ole Miss to 20 wins and an NIT bid. His work with the post players saw Terrance Henry earn All-SEC status for the first time in his career, Holloway named All-SEC honorable mention and Buckner named to the SEC All-Defensive team.
Pinkins' tenure at Ole Miss was immediately preceded by eight seasons at Middle Tennessee in Murfreesboro. He was intimately involved in all aspects of the Blue Raiders program, particularly recruiting throughout the South and developing MTSU's frontcourt personnel.
Working under head coach Kermit Davis at Middle Tennessee, Pinkins was instrumental in the development of two-time first-team All-Sun Belt forward Desmond Yates, who reached the 1,000-point milestone as a junior. Pinkins also helped develop 6-foot-10 center Theryn Hudson into one of MTSU's all-time leaders in field-goal percentage.
Tireless on the recruiting trail, Pinkins played a key role in landing a 2007 Middle Tennessee signing class that was rated No. 1 in the Sun Belt Conference and No. 48 nationally by HoopScoop. That class also was rated the 13th-best among mid-majors nationally by Rivals.com.
Pinkins played on nearly every level of college and professional basketball and brings that wealth of experience to Tennessee. Prior to his collegiate success, Pinkins was a standout prep performer at Mitchell-Baker High School in Camilla, Ga. He helped lead his team to back-to-back state championships in basketball during the 1989-90 and 1990-91 seasons, and he also quarterbacked the MBHS football team to the 1990 Georgia state championship.
Pinkins began his collegiate playing career at Chipola Junior College in Florida in 1993-94, averaging 17.5 points and eight rebounds per game during his two-year career. He then moved on to NC State, where, despite battling injuries, he averaged 9.5 points and seven rebounds.
After his collegiate career wound to a close, Pinkins played professionally, starting with Team Baleno in Zaragoza, Spain, in 1998. He averaged 22 points and nine rebounds over the course of the season.
Pinkins also played for the Raleigh (N.C.) Cougars in the USBL in 1998, (14 ppg, 8 rpg), and for Minot (N.D.) in the International Basketball Association, where he earned Most Valuable Player honors (19 ppg, 9 rpg).
Following his IBA stint, Pinkins played overseas for the Qatar Basketball Association in Doha, Qatar. (29 ppg, 11 rpg). He then played in the Chinese Basketball Association in Shenyang (11 ppg, 8 rpg).
Pinkins received his bachelor's degree in Sociology from NC State in 1998. He and his wife, Kara, have three sons - Patton, Pryce and Penn.