RALEIGH — Anthony Barber may be one of the quickest high school guards in the country, but his nickname Cat has absolutely nothing to do with that.
When I was little I used to climb on a lot of stuff, and my sister started calling me Cat because cats are always climbing on a lot of stuff, said Barber, the N.C. State signee whose Hampton (Va.) team was in town for the HighSchoolOT.com Holiday Invitational over the weekend.
One time I went on the stove and burned my feet and had rings around them, so she started calling me that. Then it got out around the community.
His feet are just fine now.
Barber led the 9-1 Crabbers, who won Virginias Group AAA (the biggest schools) state title last season, to a third-place finish in the Summit Hospitality bracket with a 70-59 win over host Broughton on Saturday afternoon.
For the three-day event the 6-2, 165-pounder finished with 70 points, eight rebounds, five assists and four steals, going 16-for-20 from the free-throw line. His best shooting game was in the finale against the Caps, as he was 4-for-4 inside the 3-point arc and 4-for-7 outside it and 5-for-5 from the free-throw line.
Hes not great yet, but hes very, very good, said Hampton coach Walter Brower, whose team had lost to nationally ranked DeSoto (Texas) 46-34 on Friday night. I think he can be great on the overall basketball scene, and Im talking about professionally as well. He has such a high ceiling he can improve from. I see him every day. I know what I scream at him about.
He just has to keep improving every day. But if the ball is in his hands late in the game, I shouldnt have anything to worry about. As long as he continues to grow as a floor leader, Im not worrying about him scoring. Hes a great on-ball defender, but he needs to improve off the ball. As long as he grows in a leadership role, the sky is the limit.
Barber is rated No. 14th among ESPN.coms top 100 prospects, and both Rivals.com and Scout.com rate him as a five-star recruit and the No. 3 point guard in the nation.
But he kept his serious recruiting list pretty short.
I was leaning toward Kansas and Alabama, and Louisville was in the picture, he said. I went on visits and took in what I wanted to see.
A whole lot of people were telling me N.C. State wasnt where I needed to be. But when I saw it for myself it was just unbelievable to me. I felt more comfortable than when I went to other schools. So I just thought about it when I was in the hotel room that night and decided that was the place I wanted to be. The fans here are great all the little kids have been yelling my name. So Im going to do what I can to help the school win.
State coach Mark Gottfried, who was on hand for all three tournament games, said he was looking for a winner in a point guard.
The first thing that jumps out with Cat is the fact they won the state championship last year, Gottfried said at the time of the signing.
As the point guard and as the leader, you like it when their teams win and he understands winning. Hes an electric player with his speed and theres not going to be many players in America that are faster than him. He has a chance to become a terrific player as well.
Gottfrieds son Cameron a junior guard for the Caps had much of the defensive duties on Barber.
Hes a good player, the younger Gottfried said. He showed he can shoot 3s and score off the drive. I thought we had a good team effort as far as getting help-side defense.
Barber smiled when talking about the matchup.
It was cool being guarded by (Cameron), Barber said. I know Im going to be around him a lot. Im sure it was a good experience for him to check me and guard me, knowing Im coming to State.
It was a great tournament. We lost yesterday, but we won the last game. Well have a good feeling going back home.