On Monday afternoon, former Memphis big man Tarik Black announced that he would transferring to Kansas where he’ll team up with Andrew Wiggins, Wayne Selden and Joel Embiid to give Bill Self the nation’s best non-Kentucky recruiting class and a shot at a national title.
Black, who will be eligible immediately, may never end up being the star that he was expected to be with the Tigers, but he will be a valuable addition in a spot that Kansas needed a body: a big, physical veteran in the front court.
Black isn’t the only Memphis castoff that has become a valuable commodity on the transfer market, as Antonio Barton has now taken centerstage as the nation’s most sought-after former Tiger. According to a tweet from his brother Will, who plays for the Portland Trailblazers, Antonio will be choosing between Maryland, Tennessee, Kansas State and Texas A&M on Sunday after attending church. Wherever he ends up, Barton will be eligible immediately.
All four programs would be a good fit for Barton. Maryland lost Pe’Shon Howard to a transfer and has been looking for a suitable point guard for a couple of seasons. Barton would join a back court rotation that includes Seth Allen and freshman Roddy Peters. Barton is also a Baltimore native. Tennessee lost Trae Golden earlier this month, and currently does not have a true point guard on their roster. The Vols are one of Memphis’ biggest rivals, but they also happen to have a roster that is talented enough to finish third in the SEC and put together an NCAA tournament run. Kansas State doesn’t have the kind of talent that Tennessee does, but with Angel Rodriguez transferring out, they have a void at the point as well. Texas A&M comes into the picture because their associate head coach, Glenn Cyprien, recruited the Bartons to Memphis.
It will be interesting to see where Barton ends up, and it will also be interesting to see just how effective he ends up being in a new program. His best season at Memphis came as a freshman, when he averaged 8.2 points and played more than 24 minutes per game while Joe Jackson struggled adjusting to the college game. But Barton saw his minutes consistently decline over the last two seasons with the emergence of Jackson as well as Chris Crawford and Geron Johnson.
The question is whether or not he can actually be a point guard. He’s never averaged more than 1.7 assists in any season as a collegian, but some of that can be accredited to the fact that Barton was never the best ball-handler on the Memphis roster. Was he simply accepting his role?
Regardless, Barton is a veteran guard that can play the point if need be and is also an excellent three-point shooter. He’ll be a valuable, one-season stopgap for whatever program wins his services. That’s why I think that Maryland may end up being the best fit for him. He can play either back court position, and the other two members of that rotation are a freshman and a sophomore. The Terps may have lost Alex Len, but they still should be able to make a run at the NCAA tournament next season.
But if he can get past the rivalry aspect, taking over the starting point guard role with the Vols may be too much of an opportunity for him to pass up.
You can find Rob on twitter @RobDauster.