Barton confirmed to The Associated Press on Sunday that he had chosen Tennessee, where the guard says he thinks the Volunteers have all the pieces in place for him to play on a team that can win.
"I'm so excited," Barton said. "I'm just ready to get started as quick as possible."
Barton's older brother, Will of the NBA's Portland Trail Blazers, tweeted earlier Sunday that his brother had decided to transfer to Tennessee. University officials could not comment because a signed letter of intent had not been received as of Sunday afternoon.
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Barton, a 6-foot-2 guard, started 31 games his first two seasons, but he averaged 5.6 points and 1.3 rebounds coming off the bench this past season. He missed most of the final two months because of a hairline fracture in his right foot.
Tennessee offers Barton the chance for a bigger role. Tennessee's May 7 announcement that Trae Golden was leaving the program left walk-on Brandon Lopez as the Vols' lone experienced point guard. They also have incoming freshman Darius Thompson.
Golden was Tennessee's third-leading scorer with 12.1 points per game and ranked third in the Southeastern Conference with 3.9 assists per game this past season while helping Tennessee finish 20-13 and reach a second straight NIT.
Barton's arrival adds a proven point guard to a Tennessee lineup that features plenty of talent at just about every other position. Barton can play either guard spot, but the Vols likely will need him more at the point.
Tennessee returns four players who made at least 16 starts last season, including first-team all-SEC shooting guard Jordan McRae and second-team all-SEC forward Jarnell Stokes. The Vols also welcome back Jeronne Maymon, a former second-team all-SEC forward who sat out the entire 2012-13 season with a knee injury.
"Tennessee had the best chance of me coming in and winning — not only playing right away but they have all the pieces from shooting guard to small forward to even guys coming in off the bench and the coaching staff," Barton said.
Tennessee had room to add another point guard because Golden's departure left the Vols with 12 scholarship players, one below the NCAA limit. Three days before the announcement of Golden's exit, the Vols revealed that incoming freshman guard Travon Landry had been released from his letter of intent. Landry has since signed with New Mexico State.
During his years in Memphis, Barton did much of his best work against Tennessee. He scored 21 points in a 99-97 double-overtime victory over Tennessee in the Maui Invitational in November 2011. Less than two months later, he shot 5 of 7 and scored 19 points as Memphis beat Tennessee 69-51.
Barton acknowledged it would be unusual playing for Tennessee after spending most of his career with an in-state rival.
"At the end of the day, I have to do what's best for me," Barton said.