Prior to embarking on a lengthy NBA career that resulted in one MVP trophy (1993) and a spot in the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame, Charles Barkley played three seasons at Auburn University and to this day remains arguably the greatest basketball player in school history (current assistant Chuck Person is the school’s all-time leading scorer). Barkley played three seasons for Sonny Smith on the Plains, but according to Brandon Marcello of AL.com the “Round Mound of Rebound” states in a documentary set to debut later this month that he was nearly done after two.
Plenty of players have frustrating moments during their career, and that was the case for Barkley as he and Smith butted heads on occasion. Also of note in the documentary is the school Barkley had plans of transferring to: Alabama.
“I called the coaches at Alabama at the end of my sophomore year and told them I’m transferring to Alabama because I had just had enough,” Barkley said.
“I got on him really bad one day and he couldn’t take it any more,” Smith says in the documentary. “He just walked off the floor and quit.”
The documentary “Bo, Barkley and the Big Hurt” focuses on the careers of Auburn greats Barkley, Bo Jackson and Frank Thomas, who all moved on to put together impactful careers in the athletic world (and Tecmo Bowl in the case of Bo) after their time at Auburn. But the possibility of Barkley making the move to Auburn’s biggest rival is one that leads to asking what would have happened with his career had he followed through.
While some conferences prohibit athletes from transferring within the league, and as we’ve seen many schools will take the step of not releasing an athlete to fellow league members. But the SEC’s transfer rule is simply that an athlete would have to sit out a year (the usual NCAA rule) before being allowed to play, and they can receive an athletic grant-in-aid as well.
Had Barkley actually transferred, would his career still conclude with a spot in the Hall of Fame? And, having to sit out a season, when would Barkley be drafted in the 1985 NBA Draft? Barkley was picked fifth overall in the 1984 NBA Draft, considered by many to be the greatest draft in the history of the NBA.