Barber Harnessing His Speed

NORTH AUGUSTA, S.C. – Anthony Barber's nickname is a fitting one.

Called "Cat" by his Boo Williams teammates, family and friends, Barber's tight handle, top-notch speed and elite quickness make him one of the elite point guards in the class of 2013.

In April, Barber, a native of Hampton, Va., was handed the keys to the Boo Williams Summer League 17-and-under team – one of the most successful and consistent programs in AAU - as its starting point guard. Familiar names like Scotty Reynolds, Chris Wright, Greivis Vazquez and UNC sophomore Kendall Marshall have held the coveted job in the past.

So far, Boo Williams, who coaches the team that shares his name, is pleased with Barber's play.

"He's been good and has really learned how to run the team," said Williams. "He hasn't been intimidated by the position he's in. He grew up with the program and has been playing with us since he was 10 years old. Over the last year, he's improved a lot – he's getting there."

Barber explained, "I just try to play my game. I don't try to do anything I can't do and make sure I get my teammates involved."

By his own admission, sometimes Barber's speed and quickness actually work to his detriment. He said he's worked a great deal in the past few months on playing under control and letting the game come to him.

"As a point guard, you have to slow down at times," Barber explained. "I think I was playing too fast at the beginning, but recently I've slowed down and gotten more pace to my game. Now, I see the floor better and then when I need my quickness I use it to my advantage."

At the Peach Jam on Wednesday, Barber showed off his new-found pace in Boo Williams' double-overtime win over Louisiana Select.

In front of a large number of college coaches – including UNC's Roy Williams – Barber had 29 points, four assists and four steals.

Down by as many as 10 in the first half, Barber kept Boo in striking distance with an assortment of drives to the basket. Louisiana Select tried three different defenders on Barber, but the result was usually the same – a Barber layup or a kick-out to a teammate for an open jump shooter. All but three of Barber's 11 made field goals came inside the paint.

"Getting to the basket is his biggest strength," Williams said. "He can really penetrate and finish."

Barber's quickness isn't limited to the offensive end, however. In addition to his quickness, his 6-foot-2, 170-pound frame is also bigger than most high school point guards, allowing him to wreak havoc in the backcourt. While he only had four official steals, countless other times Barber harassed Louisiana Select ball handlers into turnovers and mistakes.

Because of his speed and quickness, Barber said he wants to play for a team that likes to "get out and run." He's receiving interest from Kentucky, North Carolina and has scholarship offers from Virginia Tech, Virginia and N.C. State.

His most recent conversation with North Carolina was when a Tar Heel assistant coach called Barber in June while he and Boo Williams were playing at the Rose City Showcase in Portland.

"We had a good conversation," Barber recalled. "UNC is a great school."

Barber hopes to make a decision sometime during his junior season and said he'll likely play in the ACC and has already made a visit to Virginia. When selecting a school, he said several factors will come into play.

"I'm just looking for a school will that help me get better not just in basketball," he said. "I want to go to a school where I can fit into the program."

Though his game has just started to flourish on the circuit's highest level, Williams thinks Barber's ceiling is as high as any of his past point guards.

"His skill level is similar to those guys at the same age," said Williams. "When it's all said and done, he's going to be a great point guard."

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