It’s hard to talk about Barbers Hill basketball without mentioning Gaven Barber.
The 5-foot-9 junior guard isn’t as much a standout for putting up astronomical numbers as it is his play as a young man coming to the court out of time machine. He seems more like a kid from the 80s and 90s than the modern attention getter.
“I have watched Gaven play basketball since the seventh grade in school ball and in the summer,” Barbers Hill head coach Chris Pennington said. “He has always been a guy that would play hard and fly around the court. Fearless is a word that comes to mind when I watch him play. I knew at that young age he was going to be a really good high school player just because of how competitive and how hard he played.
“He has a little of the (1980s/90s) Detroit Pistons bad boy in him. By that I mean he is always up for any challenge. He wants to guard the opposing teams best player and isn’t scared to play physical. He’s not afraid to do the little things like screen, take charges, dive on the floor that go unnoticed sometimes.”
Barber averages 7.5 ppg, 4.2 rpg, 2.4 spg and 2.6 apg and shoots 32 percent from the three-point line.
After sitting on the bench for a lot of the previous campaign, Barber made a move to a different AAU team this summer and there he developed under his coach, Harris Perez of Blueprint Elite, once started for some of the more successful Atascocita teams.
“He gave me that mentor to teach me how to be mature about the game and just play,” Barber said.
“It really helped me going into this season. Instead of being so nervous, I just went out there and was going to play like a dog.
“He worked on my skills, but it was more about maturity, composure, keeping my head on the court, showing out and just playing the game. It was just things he would tell me. Instead of getting mad when I missed some threes to not worry about it, just keep shooting, don’t foul and don’t say anything. Just keep playing.”
Barber took advantage of his time during the COVID-19 pandemic as he could just dial into his sport.
“All the gyms around here were closed so I didn’t get any shots up the entire time during COVID (summer),” Barber said. “But I got into the weight room and haven’t missed a day since then. I did weight room hard and worked hard on skill things like ballhandling, jumping, running and cuts.
“Whenever the gym was open later, I got shots up.”
He also watched film on some of the better national prep players of recent years.
“It really built up of me wanting to play,” Barber said. “Watching them made me want to work harder and do what I could do.”
His teammates may be kids of the 2020s, but they appreciate their throwback teammate.
“Gaven is respected by his teammates because Gaven plays just as hard in practice as he does in games,” Pennington said. “He is going to defend every day no matter who his opponent is. He is a joy to coach, because he is consistent in his work ethic.
“Gaven helps us in numerous ways. His leadership by the way he practices, his toughness on defense, he is willing to do whatever it takes to help his team win. He is also a great ball handler, can shoot the three, and finish at the rim. He is also one of our best rebounders at five-foot-nine.”