BLOOMINGTON – After a meeting late last week with Tom Crean, Rochester's Kory Barnett is once again Bloomington-bound.
The 6-5, 200-pound small forward will walk on to the IU basketball team, giving Crean two walk-ons for next season. Fellow Indiana Elite AAU team member Daniel Moore from Carmel H.S. also let Crean know he'd pass up on potential scholarship offers for the chance to play in Bloomington.
Barnett comes into the fold after averaging 11.7 points and 4.3 assists as a senior while shooting 35 percent from behind the 3-point arc. He helped lead Rochester H.S. to a 17-5 record this season, and Rochester enjoyed its most successful four-year run in school history during his four seasons on the varsity. Barnett also finished his prep career with more than 800 points, 500 rebounds, 300 assists and 100 blocks at the 3A school.
"He's that kind of player who does all the little things," said his dad, Mike Barnett. "That's what makes a good walk-on."
While much of the scholarship interest in Barnett came from the mid-major level, he wasn't lacking in great opportunities. One of the first to surface came from Kansas coach Bill Self, who saw Barnett play at one of Kansas' summer elite camps.
"Bill Self grabbed him and said, ‘are you thinking about coaching?'" Mike said. "Korey said yes, and Coach Self said if he walked on, he'd scholarship him for two of his four years, and then he could then be on scholarship again as a G.A. on his staff."
Korey was also getting interest from Memphis Coach John Calipari to walk on as well, and appeared very close to pulling the trigger on one of those opportunities. But that's when then IU Coach Kelvin Sampson got involved.
Like Self and Calipari, Sampson saw a relatively unheralded player who he thought could be an important piece to high-major team's success in a variety of ways.
"Coach Sampson said Korey can be a part of that puzzle," Mike said. "Sampson said he's going to be a stud on our scout team, he's going to make guys better, and I feel like I can play him if guys aren't doing their job or someone gets hurt he can step in and play a role for us."
That pitch, coupled with the fact that IU's in-state tuition was much more appealing than Kansas' out-of-state tuition, sold Barnett on the Hoosiers. But after Sampson departed in February, there was a degree of uncertainty about what would happen with the new staff.
That all changed when Crean came on board along with assistant Tim Buckley, the former Ball State head coach. Mike Barnett already had ties with Buckley thanks to his involvement with the Indiana Elite AAU squad, and things came together for Kory quickly. The Barnetts came to Bloomington last Friday and both sides agreed that Bloomington was where he should be.
"He knew Coach Buckley pretty well, so he had a comfort level going in," Mike said. "He was thinking that if Coach Buckley works for (Crean) he must be a great guy, and then he got to meet him and really liked him. It went well and he decided that's what he wanted to do."
Kory will be coming into a program that still has a great deal of uncertainty for next season. IU is woefully short on scholarship players for next season, and there are plenty of rumors of academic issues for members of the current team. On top of that, IU still has an appearance before the NCAA Infractions Committee in June which could further result in further penalties for the program.
But that could wind up providing someone like him the sort of opportunity he's always dreamed about.
"Kory is looking at it as they're down some guys, I might be able to get some minutes if I work hard, I might be able to play a role," Mike Barnett said.
Barnett Bound for Bloomington
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