Cat Barber is on the cusp of fulfilling a dream. On Friday he was once again working diligently to make that dream become a reality.
In Charlotte to work out for the Hornets in Pre-Draft saga that has seen Barber visit 11 NBA teams, the expansion of his game since he left NC State was already clear to see.
Barber drifted along the NBA three-point line, which is 15 inches further away from the goal than the line in college, and took passes from various spots on the floor. At one point, the ACC’s leading scorer from the past season sank seven of eight shots—a stark contrast from his first season and a half with the Wolfpack when he showed little inclination to take a jump shot.
It took some time for Barber to adjust to college ball. He feels the move to the pros will be more seamless in that regard.
“I think my game translates better to the NBA than college,” Barber said to the assembled media in Charlotte. “In college there's a lot of packed in, help defenses and in the NBA it's kind of spread.”
“My quickness, my speed, the way I dribble the ball, get in there and score, get to the foul line, shoot the pull-up,” Barber added when asked about the skillsets he possesses. “I'm trying to show my leadership. I know how to play the game and be a point guard.”
The journey across the country has been arduous for Barber. He still has scheduled trips to San Antonio, Boston and New Orleans remaining. The travel has been the first adjustment he has had to make.
“It's a lot,” Barber said. “You make sure you get your rest. Traveling with the time change, workouts back-to-back. It's tough. A lot of people wish they could have this opportunity so I take advantage of it.”
Ultimately the goal is to play in the NBA and it has never been centered on a specific team.
The travel and working out for various squads has shown Barber that he is more apt to succeed should he land in a spot that allows him to grow, as NC State did during his first two years in college.
“[I went] through ups and downs my first couple of years [at NC State], but it prepared me good,” Barber said. “Coach Gottfried and those guys, they helped me grow as a man, coming into a situation like this.”
While in Charlotte, Barber liked both the instruction he received and the attention he garnered from locals.
He feels that the Hornets may be one of the teams he that best suits him on and off the court. Towards the end of the regular season, he attended a game in Time Warner Cable Arena.
“It was great to see the NBA game live and right there on the floor.” Barber said of his visit to Charlotte in April. “I came to I think the last regular season game. It would be great to come in and play behind Kemba Walker.
“Coming here, it felt like home. It was a good environment.”
As for his time at NC State, Barber felt that he accomplished most of his athletic goals. With the responsibilities of adulthood looming and growth within the context of college life limited, the move to play professional basketball made the most sense, regardless of the bumps that may lie ahead.
“First, I have a little daughter, and I'm playing for her now,” Barber said. “I have to provide for her, do what I have to do to take care of her.
“I felt like there was nothing left for me to do at NC State. So me, my coaches, and my family, we made the decision…well, I made the decision but they backed it up.”
His work at NC State is not quite finished however. Barber, who majored in social work, smiled when asked if he would return to school and take classes so he could one day graduate.
“Yes,” he said grinning. “I probably will.”