A few days ago, we covered Demetrius Jackson, a point guard who will be heading to Notre Dame in 2013. Jackson is a passing point guard who creates for others, that is one of the two archetypes for point guard playing styles. The other type of guard looks to score first, is generally aggressive in attacking the rim and uses his passing as a secondary option. Our recruit today is the second type of player.
Born in Hampton, VA, Anthony Barber is a lightning quick guard that is committed to North Carolina State. A McDonald’s All-American, Barber has been getting attention from big problems throughout his high school career. His decision to play for the North Carolina State Wolfpack has further helped to show that NC State is a quickly soaring program in the ACC. Since the team is losing its top two returning scorers from last year, CJ Leslie and Richard Howell, the Wolfpack will be in a transition year. Thanks to Barber and the rest of their solid recruiting class, it should be a quick turnaround to success.
Here is a video of Barber playing some high school basketball.
Most players generally move faster without the ball because they are free to focus on their running. A few players are actually quicker while dribbling, guys like Ty Lawson and John Wall are prime examples of these guys. Anthony Barber is another one, he is blindingly quick with the ball and can outpace most players who are running without it. On defense when he gathers a rebound and takes off, it becomes a one man fast break for his team because no one has the foot speed to keep up with the speed that Barber burns.
As a point guard, his ball handling is excellent, he might have the best handles in the entire recruiting class. This is useful in pick and roll situations and on his drives at the rim. Barber is comfortable using either hands to dribble and can take his man on isolation situations from both sides of the court, it doesn’t matter if it’s on the left or right. Barber’s crossovers are also deadly and often gets his defender biting on his fakes, at which point Barber does not hesitate to take advantage.
Offensively, he is better as a scorer than a passer. Barber can pull up off his dribble in the mid range area and can also stroke it from deep fairly consistently. His best skill though, is his ability to drive at the rim and find a way to finish hard in the paint. Barber is ambidextrous and finishes with his left and right hand equally as well. At the rim, he finishes explosively and has a great first jump that allows him to finish through contact and draw a lot of and ones. In the NCAA, he should be a player that draws a lot of fouls with his attacks to the rim.
That’s not to say that he doesn’t pass at all. Barber is best used as a passer off the drive, similar to how Steve Nash would draw the defense on him during his Phoenix Suns days and then kick the ball out to the perimeter for easy three point shots. Blessed with good instincts, Barber has also shown the ability to change his decision mid air and find open big men off the drive for easy dunks.
Finally, Barber is a kid with a great mind set. He is very cerebral on the court and does not show much emotion. The intensity is there and Barber only wants to win and nothing else. That kind of motor pushes him to outwork his opponents more often than not and combined with his natural talent, it makes Barber a really tough for most point guards.
To start, Barber is ridiculously tiny for his height. At 6”2 he weighs only around 170 pounds which is bordering on brittle. When he faces off against some of the machines that populate the NCAA, he will definitely get pushed around because of his size. Barber does not appear to have the type of body that is conducive to building a lot of bulk in terms of muscle but he should still commit a good amount of time to the weight room.
Defensively, Barber can be a really good man on man defender when he fully focuses on shutting his man down. He has great instincts in the passing lanes and when going for the strip on his defender. Too often though, he has lapses in attention and allows his man to beat him off the dribble. This is not uncommon in high school kids who would rather score points than stop some from going up for the other team. Thankfully, Barber shows the type of smarts and skills to be a great defender in the NCAA, with some coaching and practice, he could become one of the deadliest two way players in division one. A guy to look at for some inspiration would be Michigan State’s Keith Appling, who has a similar build to Barber and is one of the most ferocious defenders on the perimeter in the NCAA.
In the offensive system, Barber would do well to gain some experience as a play caller on the floor. A lot of his offense in high school is off isolation plays and in transition but in the NCAA, he will be looked at to run the offense more systematically. That means learning plays, knowing how to read defenses and being able to decide when to be a scorer and when to focus on getting his teammates some buckets.
From the footage I have watched of Barber, which is a lot more than I would like to admit considering he has become one of my favorite sleeper picks to really be dominant, his shot mechanics are a little off. He does not release the ball the same every time he takes a shot and it could be the reason for his three point shot not being as consistent as it could be. When he arrives at NC State, there should be some focus put on fixing the kinks in his release so that he can become a threat to knock down jumpers from anywhere on the court on a consistent basis.
What to expect at NC State:
In all honesty, it is hard for me to be unbiased when it comes to Anthony Barber. I have always liked athletic point guards who can do a little bit of everything and Barber is that type of guy. Ranked in the 25 range by most scouting lists, I truly feel that it is way too low for his talent and attitude. Barber is a hard working kid who seems destined to become a dominant guard both in the NCAA and in the NBA.
With both Lorenzo Brown and Rodney Purvis having good seasons for the Wolfpack, it is possible that Barber may not start immediately but I believe he will win himself a starting spot before the season is over. Barber’s speed and ability to handle the ball as well as NBA guards will make him a dangerous offensive player from the get-go. If he commits to being a shut down defender in addition to those things, he will be a fearsome two way player that could easily eventually garner player of the year hype a year or two down the road.
While the Wolfpack are losing two of their leaders, they are adding a terrific talent. That isn’t even mentioning a few of the other kids that will be arriving with Barber who will probably be covering soon. The future should be bright at NC State and they should be one of the most entertaining teams to watch next year.