With Tennessee now emerging as a potential suitor for Antonio Barton, it’s becoming a three-team race for the former Memphis guard’s services. Barton will be eligible immediately and would likely be a starter wherever he lands. The Baltimore native averaged 5.6 points-per-game, 1.3 rebounds-per-game, and 1.1 assists-per-game this past season but saw his playing time decrease every year since arriving at Memphis in the 2010-2011 season. Below are the three teams that are in the running for Barton and what their chances of landing him are.
Maryland – Regardless of the emergence of Tennessee as a possible landing spot for Barton, Maryland still has to be considered the front-runner and stands the best chance of landing the local product. There’s just too many factors that sway in Maryland’s favor. First off, Barton is a Baltimore native and has a four-year old daughter that still lives in the area. He is the godbrother of Terps guard Nick Faust, who has been recruiting Barton to join him in College Park. Having his family close by may be the deciding factor for Barton but obviously, he has to weigh all his options. Barton would most likely start for the Terps right away with guard Pe’Shon Howard transferring back home to California to play close to his sick grandmother. The point guard was a position of instability for Maryland last season and it would be extremely beneficial to have that spot shored up for the 2013-2014 season. Barton’s presence would also allow Mark Turgeon to slowly ease freshman guard Roddy Peters in the point guard role. Barton has been long considered a “layup,” but the emergence of Tennessee makes it a little less certain.
Tennessee – The Volunteers weren’t considered a suitor for Barton but they have now emerged as possibly a premiere destination for the Baltimore native. According to reports, Barton was on Tennessee’s campus for a visit on “Wednesday or Thursday.” It’s pretty clear why Tennessee is interested in bringing Barton to Knoxville. Volunteers guard Trae Golden has decided to transfer and ironically is a player that is on Maryland’s radar if they fail to land Barton. Golden averaged 12.1 points-per-game to go along with 3.9 assists-per-game and 2.9 rebounds-per-game this past season. Now Barton isn’t as complete a player as Golden when it comes to grabbing rebounds and dishing out assists. However, he would still be an adequate point guard for Tennessee. Replacing Golden is essential because the Volunteers are returning their top two scorers in guards Jarnell Stokes and Jordan McRae. Barton would give them a third athletic guard that is capable of running the point. If there’s one team that Maryland should worry about swiping Barton away from them, it’s the Volunteers.
Syracuse – The Orange are probably running in the third position for Barton’s services but the connections to Barton are there. Barton is close friends with Syracuse forward C.J. Fair and Fair also hails from Baltimore. Barton would fit in nicely alongside Fair except for the one small wrench in the plan. St. Benedict’s (NJ) phenom point guard Tyler Ennis will be coming to Syracuse in the fall and is penciled at the one spot for the Orange. There’s no way that Ennis won’t start so this makes Syracuse a very unlikely spot for Barton. Barton is a graduate transfer and isn’t going to want to spend his last season of collegiate basketball coming off the bench. So Syracuse is probably a long shot to land Barton.