In its second crack at hiring an associate coach in less than six weeks, Florida found an accomplished big-man coach with SEC ties.
The Gators announced Texas Tech assistant coach Al Pinkins as its new associate coach on Friday, hoping that the former 6-foot-6 North Carolina State forward can help develop their stable of forward and centers. The Gators were often outscored in the paint last season and finished last in the SEC in rebounding margin.
Pinkins is coming to UF after spending 2016-18 at Texas Tech, the team that knocked the Gators out of the NCAA Tournament in the Round of 32 this past season. Prior to Texas Tech, Pinkins had stops at LSU (2015-16), Tennessee (2014-15) and Ole Miss (2011-14), where he helped develop center Murphy Holloway into an All-SEC player and forward Reginald Buckner into an All-SEC defensive player.
Overall, Pinkins brings 15 years of coaching experience, having began his career from 2003-11 at Middle Tennessee State under former MTSU and current Ole Miss coach Kermit Davis.
“We’re really excited about the opportunity to bring Al to Florida,” White said. “I’ve known Al for many years, and his high-level coaching experience and familiarity with the SEC make him a great addition to our coaching staff. He does great work in all phases of the job, but has a particularly strong track record of developing big men.”
In his one season at LSU, Pinkins helped work with 76ers standout Ben Simmons. In his one season at Tennessee, Pinkins helped guide a young frontcourt to finishing second in the conference in defensive rebounds and first in offensive rebounds.
Pinkins is replacing Armon Gates, whose three-week stint with the Gators came to an end when he accepted the Nebraska assistant coaching position Monday. A report in the Chicago Sun Times said the move was initiated by White due to concerns of “dynamics within the coaching staff.” Current assistant coaches Darris Nichols and Jordan Mincy were former guards in college, as was Gates, who was hired to replace Dusty May when May left to become head coach at FAU.
“My family and I are thrilled to become a part of Gator Nation,” Pinkins said. “I’ve been to Gainesville many times as an opposing coach. I look forward to having the Rowdy Reptiles and the rest of the University of Florida’s great fans on my side now. This opportunity for me and my family comes after two wonderful and successful seasons spent in Lubbock at Texas Tech. We will always be grateful to Coach Chris Beard, (Texas Tech athletic director) Kirby Hocutt and our Red Raider family for our time spent there.
“Recently, I had the chance to revisit some discussions I had with Coach White when his staff first had an opening. It became clear that the University of Florida is a special place and a program my family and I want to be a part of. I’m ready to get to work.”
A former Camilla, Ga., high school football and basketball standout, Pinkins played two seasons at Chipola Junior College before moving on to play at North Carolina State under Les Robinson. Pinkins played professionally overseas in Spain, China, Qatar and with the USBL and IBA for six years before beginning his coaching career. He earned a bachelor’s degree from North Carolina State in 1998 in sociology.