Written By: Bryson Bennett
Anthony “Cat” Barber has played in 12 games with the Erie BayHawks this year after being traded from the Greensboro Swarm on Feb. 21, 2019. Barber, unfamiliar with his new teammates, coaching staff and the city of Erie, had one familiar face in the BayHawks locker room – Head Coach Noel Gillespie. Coach Gillespie served as Barber’s head coach with the Greensboro Swarm during the 2016-17 and 2017-18 seasons.
Since joining the BayHawks, Barber has been electric, notching double-digit scoring in 10 of his 12 contests, a feat he only accomplished in 13 of 27 games with the Swarm earlier this year.
“I knew his capabilities from coaching him in two different seasons,” said Coach Gillespie. “Through his familiarity with myself and through the BayHawks’ up-tempo style of play, his game fits in perfectly with what we’re trying to do here in Erie.”
The Hampton, Virginia, native has been able to shine through the light and found his perfect fit in Erie with the BayHawks. Barber’s passing has improved, due to Erie’s up-tempo style of play. Throughout his three-year tenor in the NBA G League, Barber’s recorded only a handful of games with double-digit assists – nine times, to be exact. Since joining the BayHawks, Barber has notched five points/assists double-doubles, which includes a career-high 13 dimes against Southeast Division foe Capital City Go-Go on Feb. 28, 2019.
“My game has always been the same; I just wasn’t playing as much with Greensboro,” said the 6-1 guard. “When I came to Erie, Coach Gillespie believed in me and trusted me. So I came in and just blew it out.”
We’ve all heard of the expression “ball don’t lie,” well, numbers don’t lie either. Based off of statistics, one has to agree that Barber’s playing his best basketball of his professional career.
While with the BayHawks, Barber has put together a stat line that would certainly impress anyone. Through 12 games (10 starts), the N.C. State product is registering 21.8 points on 47.4% shooting from the field, including a 87.3% clip from the charity stripe in 37.2 minutes of action.
Barber has done more than put up points for himself, as he’s dished out 8.3 assists and pulled down 4.8 boards per contest. Gillespie described Barber with one word “quick!” and someone who has “elite speed with the ball in his hands.”
Barber has been blowing up the box score with the BayHawks, as almost every statistical category has improved. Changing teams almost three-fourths of the way through the season could not have been easy on Barber, but he accepted the challenge, and took advantage of this new opportunity. Barber believes that “there is always someone that can take your spot, so you have to always be on top of your game, just ticking with it and fighting through the pain.”
In his first game in Erie, Barber was on the sidelines watching shootaround and warm ups, anxiously waiting to see if he was going to be cleared to play. Just minutes before the game, Barber suited up and shined. He finished with a game-high tying 22 points on 10-20 (50.0%) shooting from the floor and a game-high nine assists in 37.1 minutes of play as a reserve.
Barber, coming into the game, didn’t know the plays or even his new teammates very well, but that did not stop him performing to the best of his ability. He was ready to play when his name was called.
“His quickness, pace, ability to change ends and get to the rim defines who he is,” said Coach Gillespie.
As the season comes to a close, the NC State product will be keeping an eye on the NBA, while he hopes to participate in NBA Summer League and looks forward to what his bright future holds.