Cat Barber’s first season in professional basketball has already seen him dealt to a new team and adapt to the rigors of life on the road while trying to hone his craft.
Of late it is starting to come together for the former NC State point guard.
Barber scored 20 points on 8-for-16 shooting from the floor and dished out 10 assists in the Greensboro Swarm’s 128-124 home victory over the Canton Charge Thursday. He was coming off a 35-point effort in the team’s previous contest.
In his first 11 games with the Swarm, Barber is averaging 16.5 points and 5.5 assists per contest.
Learning does not end when one leaves school. Barber decided to forgo his senior season at NC State after the 2015-16 campaign to pursue a career in professional basketball and he has focused on being a student of the game since.
Often forced to contort his body when he drove to the basket in college, Barber is now driving through contact when necessary while also adapting in other ways. His game has clearly developed in the NBA D-League this season.
“It is just picking my spots,” Barber said. “It is picking out spots and working out to where I can see guys open. I am getting my points when I can but it is a matter of doing what I can and taking what they give.”
The season started for Barber with the Delaware 87ers, a Philadelphia 76ers-affiliate, but he was dealt to Greensboro on February 3rd for Aaron Harrison. The Swarm are affiliated with the Charlotte Hornets. and in their first season of play.
Greensboro is not only a homecoming to the state of North Carolina for the former Wolfpacker but it is also familiar for Barber in that he worked out for the Hornets over the summer and it was an organization that showed significant interest in him after the 2016 NBA Draft.
“It has been good,” Barber said of the move to Greensboro. “ It is different from when I was in Delaware so it continues. I kind of know some of the guys here so it has been good. After the draft [Charlotte was] the first ones that called and wanted me to play on their summer league team but I went to Philly because they offered more money. Eventually I ended up back here.”
Remarkably, once the trade happened Barber was forced to get acclimated to his new team in a most unique yet simplest way; by playing in actual games.
“He came in right away and played three games without a practice, without a shootaround but as a basketball player with instincts,” Greensboro head coach Noel Gillespie said. “Now he has been able to watch film, be involved with practice, learn the playbook, learn his teammates and it has been great.”
Playing in the D-League, the focus is on the process. For Barber, meshing with his teammates in order to facilitate the success of his team is also tied to his individual growth and the trade was another opportunity to show his worth.
“I try to do that, with not being here, but coming in and being the point guard you have to pick it up right away,” Barber said. “I got with him and tried to learn.”
Like many others, the ultimate goal for Barber is to play in the NBA. It is a dream he can visualize and it is one he thinks he is on the cusp of reaching.
“It would be great,” Barber said of one day becoming a NBA player. “That’s everybody’s dream. I feel like I am right there. I am getting a lot of good feedback. It is just a matter of keep going and doing what I have got to do.”