"I had no idea who he was until he gave us 20 the other night," Vance coach Will Robinson said. "He didn't get off the bench when we played them last year," another marveled. Literally only a handful of people in the building could identify the kid let alone provide a workable frame of reference for what just happened.
Meet Javarris Barnett, a 6-foot-5 senior shooting guard out of Charlotte (N.C.) Victory Christian. Now memorize his name because he just may become the hottest spring recruit since Patrick Beverly went from mid-major to Arkansas last May.
Two days after Thanksgiving, these eyes watched Victory Christian play Hope Christian at the Bull City Classic. Barnett didn't ping the radar. "(He was) low key, this was his breakout tournament right here," Victory Christian coach Michael Pratt said.
Victory Christian lost to its rival Charlotte Christian in overtime; Barnett hit the 3-pointer that got it to OT. Had Barnett not emerged as a major sleeper, the contest still would have ranked up there with the best games we've seen this year. Toss in the basketball awakening that Barnett experienced and it was just one of those days you were glad to be in the gym.
Barnett scored 25 points in an impressive fashion, 18 of the coming from behind the arc. The shooting guard added 7 rebounds and a trio of assists.
The vociferous crowd didn't know what to do with him. They couldn't identify because he's not yet a name player in the area. All they could do was cheer on No. 24 every time he touched the basketball.
Barnett showed a high-major stroke off the catch and range on his jumper. He's got an athletic build and is graceful around the court. While he's not completely polished, should he be able to mirror the level of play he demonstrated Saturday night he'll easily become one of the nation's most recruited wing players this spring.
What happened? Where'd he come from? "He's been here all along but he was not a starter last year," Pratt said. "He grew some more over the summer and worked on his handles and his inside game.
Whenever something like this happens, and admittedly Barnett said it was the best he's ever played, you have to see him again. Having said that, in talking with him and the coaching staff, this young man doesn't sound like a one-hit wonder.
"It's one of those situations where you want the light to come on," Pratt said
"That was the same thing he did last night," Langston Wertz of the Charlotte Observer said. "It was a carbon copy of last night."
Barnett indicated Winthrop, VMI and Charleston Southern have been in touch. "Those are the only three I know of," he said. Charlotte watched him Saturday night and you can bet the farm the 49ers will be first in line on Monday.
It gets better.
The wing is an outstanding student with a high test score and a strong GPA. Academically, according his coach, he's not only set to go as a qualifier he's big time in the classroom. He's got a strong frame and a young face. Barnett's youth is evidenced by the fact he's got senior braces ala Dwight Howard style.
Victory Christian doesn't have a challenging schedule the next few weeks. The squad won't play again until Thursday. The layoff is unlikely to stop a parade of college coaches jumping on planes to Charlotte the next few days.
Barnett is about to have an opportunity to earn himself a bevy of scholarship offers. He's surprised himself and a portion of the basketball loving community of Charlotte. Obviously he's raised the bar and expectation level. The trick is to recreate what we witnessed in front of the guys who control the scholarships.
"You've been telling him all along and the child sees it," Pratt said. "He began to act it out and work it out. It's a joy to see. Last night we saw it as coaches and we said he sees it now and he's ready to roll. It will happen again."
Last year's late blooming Charlotte prospect was Davidson freshman Stephen Curry. Is Barnett next? We're about to find out.
Evan Daniels sat courtside and tracked how Barnett scored: