There are many questions surrounding this year’s men’s basketball team, but one has already been answered.
The Light Blue has yet to take to the court, but one thing is clear: The Lions have found a point guard. Sophomore Brian Barbour has emerged as the ball handler who will get his teammates open looks at the basket. A savvy player who has quickly earned the respect of his teammates and coaches alike, he enters the season prepared to make a big jump from his freshman year, when he played a limited role in what was an experienced backcourt.
“He’s young, he played about 10 minutes a game last year—that’s a big jump,” head coach Kyle Smith said. “Going from playing a role to being a starter is a big jump. Part of what our program is based on is trying to reinforce making good decisions.”
It should come as no surprise that Smith has been impressed by Barbour’s play, since the new head coach recruited Barbour as a high school player when he was the associate head coach at St. Mary’s. Now that the two have joined forces, Barbour is ready to embrace the role of starting point guard, including the many responsibilities that position entails.
“I’ve been working hard all summer with the coaches and the new guys,” Barbour said. “I’m trying to be more of a leader this year and a little more vocal, and help out the new guys as well. As a point guard, you kind of have to know everyone’s job and responsibility, so you have to know spots one through five—just learning everything so you can let everyone know where to be.”
After a decorated career at Monte Vista High School in Alamo, Calif., Barbour appeared in 21 games as a freshman. As the season wore on and he started to get more comfortable, he came into his own. He finished the year with a 1.75:1 assists-to-turnover ratio, an important barometer for point guards that indicates decision-making ability. All the same, it will be a big leap this year for a player who scored no more than six points in any game last season.
His teammates think he will be up to the challenge.
“He looks like an upperclassman out there most, if not all, of the time,” senior power forward Brian Grimes said. “He definitely calls the shots out there and makes sure we’re all set up and running our plays. He’s the anchor.”
“A lot is going to rest on his shoulders, but he’s willing to accept it,” junior Noruwa Agho added. “He knows what to do and he doesn’t get frazzled, and I think he’s only going to get better as the games go on.”
Agho is not alone in predicting a bright future for Barbour and for the team, which will rely heavily on the point guard’s play.
“He’s a really hard worker—every day, he’s in the gym, regardless of whether we have practice or not. He’s getting shots up, playing hard, lifting weights every day, never misses anything,” sophomore center Mark Cisco said. “Especially being in his grade, I feel happy having him as a teammate, because I feel like he’s progressing like the rest of us, and we’re all just going to get better and better, and hopefully it’s just going to end up in a winning season—winning seasons, plural.”