The expectations placed on Will Barton before his freshman season at Memphis were undeniably lofty.
The 2009 Baltimore Sun All-Metro Player of the Year was a Top 10 recruit and Scout.com’s No. 1 shooting guard in the country. He had just finished a post-grad year at Brewster (N.H.) Academy in which he led the Bobcats to the National Prep Championship and earned MVP honors for the tournament. And some NBA Draft analysts considered the former Lake Clifton star a potential one-and-done player.
“I was very aware of,” the hype, Barton admitted. “I heard what people were saying, talking about me. I was very aware of it.”
Josh Pastner, whose first commitments as Memphis’ coach were from Will and younger brother Antonio, could sense that the 6-foot-6, 182-pound swingman might have been reading too many of his own press clippings. The second-year coach made it his priority early in the season to make Barton understand just how much development was needed in his game.
“I think with Will, there was talk of all that,” Pastner said. “But I knew when I saw Will play – and I told Will this when we signed him – ‘if you can be a one-and-done, great. But you’ve got a long way to go before then. You’ve got to get a lot better.’ I told him, [the NBA] ‘should be so far out of your mind. Anyone who’s telling you that, they’re not aware [of what it takes].’ You have to get so much stronger and better. I think early on, he was just trying to get used to the college game.”
Anything less than dominance was completely foreign to Barton. During the summer of 2008, Barton starred for Nike Baltimore Elite on the AAU circuit, earning Top 10 national rankings from Scout.com, ESPN.com, MaxPreps.com and PrepStars.com. Months later, Barton’s storybook senior year at Lake Clifton ended with the Lakers capping a 32-0 season with the Class 3A state championship. Then came his prep year at Brewster in which he averaged 20.8 points and was named the 2009-10 New England Preparatory School Athletic Conference Class A Player of the Year.
That track record of success – along with a steady stream of media hype – probably would have made any player overconfident to an extent. Barton was no different. But while the former five-star prospect couldn’t possibly live up to the unreasonable predictions that some assigned to him, Barton went out and did the best he could.
Continue reading "Sweet 16: Will Barton, Memphis" »