Barber Has The Ball

Last year NC State was looking to replace All-ACC point guard Lorenzo Brown with a pair of underclassmen in Tyler Lewis and Cat Barber.

Last year NC State was looking to replace All-ACC point guard Lorenzo Brown with a pair of underclassmen in Tyler Lewis and Anthony Barber. The duo essentially split time as the starter, with Lewis drawing the majority of the starts down the stretch. However, Lewis chose to transfer to Butler at the end of the season, leaving Barber as the Wolfpack's lone scholarship point guard on the roster.

Because of that, Barber obviously has a great opportunity this season.

"I think the ball is in Cat's hands," said NC State head coach Mark Gottfried at his summer press conference.

Barber, a former McDonald's All-American out of Hampton (VA), likely expected to be the full-time guy as a freshman, but that wasn't the case. Although he enrolled as a highly-regard recruit, he still had a lot to learn.

"Cat came in, and he's such a fast and energetic guy," said Gottfried. "I think in high school that's all he did, zip up-and-down the floor. The college game is a little different. He had to learn the position a little more... how to run the team."

Barber's freshman season could be summed up best with one word: inconsistent. He had his moments, as he averaged 8.5 points and 3.5 assists per game with flashes of brilliance on both ends of the court. However, he only shot 40.1% from the field and 26.1% from behind the 3-point line, and he didn't always make the best decisions within the halfcourt offense.

According to Gottfried, Barber's confidence is on another level due to the work he has put in this offseason.

"He's a lot more confident," said Gottfried. "Confidence also comes from how hard he's worked. I think he's put a lot of time in. He's put a lot of time in shooting the ball, shooting the three. He's put a lot of time in with myself and our coaches, talking about the position.

"He's spent a lot of time in the gym, and he knows it's his position to lose. He needs to play well. I think all that combined has made for a more confident guy. You can tell when he walks through the door... he's in a different place than he was a year ago."

Redshirt junior Trevor Lacey is expected to back up Barber at point guard while also playing the majority of his minutes at the shooting guard position. Lacey, who spent time at point guard at Alabama as a sophomore, gives NC State plenty of versatility.

"Although Trevor may play the off guard, he's going to play point guard a lot," said Gottfried. "He's an off-guard that has a point guard mentality. With Trevor and Cat, I think you'll have two guys on the floor that by nature are truly point guards.

"Even though Trevor is bigger and stronger and can play off the ball... you'll have two guys that can run a team, lead a team. I like the fact that either guy can bring the ball on the break and both guys can attack the defense and think like point guards, play like point guards. I'm hoping that's going to be a real advantage for our team, to have two guys that have that type of capability."

NC State is thin at the position, even with Barber and Lacey. Who would be the next option at point guard if one of those two went down?

"Probably Desmond [Lee]," stated Gottfried. "Hopefully you don't need your third point guard a whole lot, but if you do, I think Desmond is capable. At that point you have to kind of do it by committee.

"I think we have two very good guys that can play the lead guard position."

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