Tuesday, May 8, 2012

the recruit: Taylor Barnette

Name: Taylor Barnette
Position: SG
Hometown: Lexington, KY
School: Lexington Christian
Height: 6'3"
Weight: 180

24/7: NR
ESPN: 81; two stars; #146 SG; Southeast #150; KY #6
Rivals: three stars
Scout: three stars

Other offers: VCU, Alabama, Miami (Ohio), JMU, Central Florida, Samford, Belmont, Wofford, Liberty, Navy

Conventional wisdom had it that Tony Bennett would not want to repeat the problems brought on by having six players in one class, and was done recruiting anyone that would count in the 2012 class and graduate in 2016, as will Anthony Gill.  Turned out the problem he really wanted to avoid was the one where you head into the NCAA tournament with six and a half scholarship players.

I guess if you want to look at it this way, Taylor Barnette is Central Florida's way of paying us back for letting them have Tristan Spurlock.  Barnette was originally signed there but asked out of his commitment in April the wake of NCAA violations at the school.  Hence the very late signing; this is normally the time of year when we'd be profiling 2013 recruits, if we had any.  When he reopened his recruitment, VCU and Alabama, along with Miami of Ohio, were some of his bigger suitors.  A better list, actually, than those who'd offered him last summer before his commitment to UCF.

Not exactly an inspiring list, if we're being honest with ourselves.  An array of small southern schools with offbeat names.  Even at UCF he was considered unlikely to earn a ton of minutes in his freshman season, as the Knights had an excess of guards and Barnette's senior season in high school was cut short by an ankle injury.

His senior season must've looked pretty good until that injury.  Part of the reason bigger programs were after him after his decommitment than before is because programs always have bad news to react to and do so in unconventional ways like this.  But it's also encouraging that teams like Alabama and Dayton were interested.  It'd be hard to pretend I wouldn't be a little skeptical (or a lot skeptical) if there was this recruit being fought over by Samford and Belmont and Liberty and for whatever reason we swooped in.

Anyway.  Part of the reason we swooped in here is the depth chart, which I've updated.  Specifically, the lack of two-guards on it.  Joe Harris can be a two on the offensive end but not on the defensive end.  Justin Anderson might have the quicks to be passable at the two, but his style of play screams wing, or three - not guard.  Malcolm Brogdon is about the only player who really fits the mold of a two-guard, and that is problematic because you're supposed to get a lot of scoring out of that position.  You know, shooting guard.  Barnette really has the profile of a guy who'd come in and gather a lot of splinters his first couple years, because he's not at all highly rated (and it's not for lack of exposure) but we may well find out early if his reputation as a shooter is legit.

There's also the likelihood he'll factor into the race for minutes at the point, which a lot of respectable people are writing, but I don't think there'll be too many of those available; Jontel Evans played 31 minutes a game last year and will probably do so again this coming year.  Teven Jones is not to be forgotten about, and neither is the still-open possibility that Brogdon could get a few point guard minutes here and there as well.... and then there's Justin Miller, the preferred walk-on we brought in.  No, I think Barnette's route to playing time is hitting shots off the bench, not playing the point.  If Paul Jesperson had shot the ball well last year it would've opened up a lot more minutes for him; Barnette will have the same mission.

If he can do that, great: he's Keith Friel, and Lord knows I wish Keith Friel had infinite eligibility because I really miss the ability to bring a guy in cold off the bench and drop a quick couple of automatic threes.  That's handy.  I'm always hankering for the next Keith Friel, which means every white kid whose best skill is shooting will get compared to Friel until one of them pans out that way.  If Barnette does this it's 12 minutes a game, easy, mainly as Brogdon's backup at the two.  And it would probably squeeze Jesperson out of the rotation.

If not, then I don't know what the hell's gonna happen at the two, it'll probably mean we moonlight some of our quicker threes like Anderson at the two for a spell here and there during games or hope that Jesperson's shooting touch is there instead.  There are now 12 scholarship players on the roster for this season, 11 of whom can play, and Bennett ideally likes to run about eight.  Maybe nine, but the ninth guy isn't getting much time.  Barnette is in the weird position of being probably less skilled than most of the rest of the team, but having a wide-open depth chart to deal with.  So he could easily be one of the guys squeezed out of the rotation, or he could be the Akil Mitchell of the class - the least heralded but one of the quickest to earn and keep playing time.

As for the big-picture effect, adding Barnette leaves two free scholarships for the 2013 class, both of which could be filled.  However, I don't think it's likely.  Could we, say, add Matt Thomas and Anthony Barber?  Yes - but it would leave only one more spot for the 2014 class.  In an ideal world we're going to add both Brandan Stith and Devon Hall, and Tony Bennett is a nutcase if he risks squeezing one of them out of the class.  I think taking Barnette might be a commentary on how 2013 recruiting is going - by this time last year we'd already gotten commitments from Evan Nolte and Mike Tobey.  That's not to say we should be worried because we don't have any yet for 2013, but I just wonder if the coaches are getting a bad vibe from their 2013 targets (and I haven't gotten the impression there are many) and decided to take what he could now instead of risking missing out later.  I think the most likely event is only getting one 2013 player (though we'd take two depending on who they are, and deal with any crunches later.)


Anonymous said...

I've got a hard time thinking that all 5 of the incoming freshman will play this year. Teven Jones has to, and will likely be the backup point. Anderson's talent may be too tough to keep off the court, and Tobey's height is needed. That leaves Barnette and Nolte, and Nolte offers some combo forward ability. It wouldn't surprise me if Barnette was redshirted and perhaps developed as a point guard for 2013, in a Sammy Zeglinski way.

my current thoughts on 2013 are fairly simple - if an elite talent falls in your lap, then you scoop it up. Otherwise, I'd focus on another point/combo guard type, as we'll have Mitchell/Atkins/Tobey/Gill as our big man rotation, in some order, that year, and more than enough 2/3 types.

As a side note, Aaron Fitt, in a BaseballAmerica chat, noted that he thought of Chris Taylor as a potential top 3 round pick.

Anonymous said...

Hey. cfn has us 29th on their post-spring rankings. Not bad. They have Florida State at 9, Virginia Tech at 15, NC State at 24, Georgia Tech at 26 before us, and project an 8-4 record for us. Surprisingly, to me, Clemson was projected below us, with heavy emphasis on the bowl loss' impact.

Doesn't mean squat ... but not bad.