Antonio Barton will be graduating from the University of Memphis this spring, but his basketball career isn’t over, not by a long shot. The former 2010 three-star recruit has one more year of eligibility remaining, and Barton wants to use his final year to boost his chances of making it to the NBA. The Baltimore native will be looking for an opportunity where minutes will be at a premium, most likely a starting spot. With his local ties, the Terps could be in play here. Here’s a look at why Antonio Barton becoming a Terp would make sense, for both Maryland and Barton:
Minutes: as stated above, Barton will be looking for a team where major minutes will be up for grabs. With Pe’Shon Howard transferring and Logan Aronhalt graduating, the Terps can offer the minutes Barton seeks. Some may question whether the playing time is really available, with Seth Allen returning and Roddy Peters coming in. My answer is this: Seth Allen is not really a PG; sure, he can score with the ball in his hands, and his passing could potentially get better going into next season. But there’s no question Allen is more effective off the ball (same goes for Faust – not a PG/more effective off the ball).
Peters will be a freshman, and unless you’re a one-and-done freshman who would be in this year’s NBA draft rather than college due to the 1-year rule, the worst thing to do to a freshman PG is throw them into the fire. Not saying Peters can’t learn on the job, but Maryland needs more wins and fewer turnovers, and a freshman PG running the show is not exactly a recipe for success, even with one as talented as Peters.
Another factor is both Allen and Peters are coming off of injuries, so there’s no telling how effective they’ll be once they return. Both are young, and it is unfortunate, as they will have lost significant time improving their game.
Local Ties: Barton is from Baltimore, and there is some chatter that he wants to stay local wherever he chooses to play his final season. Other than Maryland and Towson, there aren’t too many options, unless schools like Temple/Villanova or Virginia Tech are considered local. Barton also has a 3-yr old daughter who still lives in Baltimore, which could essentially help Maryland’s case as well (remember Taivon Jacobs?).
Stats: Barton finishes his career at Memphis averaging less than 7 points per game, which may not seem all that impressive. But Barton was more than steady for the Tigers, never shooting less than 40% from 3-point range (something Maryland needs) and never averaging more than 1.3 turnovers per game (something Maryland desperately needs). He lost some minutes to hometown hero Joe Jackson, but Barton’s numbers exhibit a player who does not struggle with inconsistency. In fact, the only inconsistent part of Barton’s game was his diminishing minutes.
Some may have concerns about his point production, citing that recent graduate Logan Aronhalt was putting up more solid numbers for Albany before transferring. The comparisons to Logan Aronhalt are faulty; Aronhalt may have averaged more points (almost 14 PPG), but he also was logging more than 30 minutes per contest. He was also shooting less than 40% from behind the arc, which turned out not to be an issue when he arrived at Maryland.
The point is, don’t put too much emphasis on numbers, as once a player transfers, numbers are, for all intents and purposes, irrelevant. Another aspect of Barton’s game is his relentless defense; he averaged over one steal per game and was usually tasked with guarding the opposition’s best guard. Pair him with Dez Wells and Nick Faust, and the Terps would have a formidable trio of tough defenders.
The only issue Maryland would be concerned with is Barton’s prior injury. Barton’s minutes deteriorated due to Jackson, but he also lost time due to a micro fracture in his foot in February. He missed 10 of the Tigers’ last 13 games, and in those 3 contests, he played a combined 4 minutes. Taking Barton would give the Terps 3 guards with recent injuries, which could pose a problem in Maryland’s already thin backcourt.
Despite the injury, Antonio Barton would be a perfect fit for the Terps. He would provide solid minutes running the point, would be an experienced mentor to the young Peters, and he would help Faust stay at his normal position, enhancing his off the ball strengths. As a graduate, he would only be taking up a scholarship for one year, preventing any tie-ups with future scholarship numbers.