The Vols reportedly sneaked Barton onto campus for a visit during the middle of last week and, according to The Baltimore Sun, now pose a legitimate threat to Maryland in the competition for his services.
Barton would be a key addition for Tennessee, which is without a scholarship point guard now that two-year starter Trae Golden is leaving school. The Vols have a walk-on point guard (rising junior Brandon Lopez), three wings who have played some point (Jordan McRae, Josh Richardson, Armani Moore) and an incoming combo guard who signed in April (Darius Thompson).
Barton started 12 games at point guard for the University of Memphis as a freshman in 2010-11 and 19 more as a sophomore in 2011-12. He was relegated to a backup role behind Conference USA Player of the Year Joe Jackson last season. Rather than spend another year in reserve, Barton plans to complete his degree requirements in June and relocate to another school as a post-grad transfer.
Maryland remains the team to beat because Barton is a Baltimore native and has a four-year-old daughter living there. Tennessee reportedly turned his head during last week's visit, however, and now has at least an outside shot at landing him.
Antonio and his brother Will starred as juniors at Lake Clifton High in Baltimore, then went their separate ways – Antonio to Notre Dame Prep in Fitchburg, Mass., Will to Brewster Academy in Wolfeboro, N.H. Will was rated a five-star prospect and America's No. 1 shooting guard in the Class of 2010 by Scout.com; Antonio was rated a two-star prospect. Both signed with Memphis but Will left for the NBA Draft after earning player of the year honors in C-USA as a sophomore in 2012. He was taken with Pick 40 by the Portland Trail Blazers.
Antonio Barton averaged 6.9 points in his three years at Memphis. He shot 45.3 percent from the field, 41.7 percent from 3 and 66.1 percent from the foul line. He also posted 142 assists and 109 turnovers.
Interestingly enough, he played some of his best basketball in four meetings with Tennessee. Here's a recap:
Jan. 5, 2011 in Knoxville: Played 23 minutes, scored 8 points on 3-9 from the field, 2-4 from 3 and 0-2 free throws. He added 3 assists and 0 turnovers in a 104-84 loss.
Nov. 22, 2011 in Maui: Played 33 minutes, scored 21 points on 8-11 from the field, 4-5 from 3 and 1-1 free throws. He added 0 assists and 1 turnover in a 99-97 two-overtime win.
Jan. 4, 2012 in Memphis: Played 23 minutes, scored 19 points on 5-7 from the field, 4-5 from 3 and 5-5 free throws. He added 2 assists and 2 turnovers in a 69-51 win.
Jan. 4, 2013 in Knoxville: Played 12 minutes, scored 5 points on 2-3 from the field, 1-2 from 3 and 0-0 free throws. He posted 0 assists and 0 turnovers in an 85-80 win.
Barton's career numbers against the Big Orange are pretty impressive: He is 18 for 30 on field goals (60 percent), 11 for 16 on 3-point tries (68.8 percent) and 6 for 8 on free throws (75.0 percent). He has recorded 5 assists and 3 turnovers while playing an average of 22.8 minutes per game against the Vols.