Republished from the Jefferson City News Tribune
COLUMBIA — You’d think Jordan Barnett’s fondest memory at Mizzou Arena would be an obvious one. As a senior at C.B.C., he tallied 43 points and 20 rebounds to lead the Cadets to a 2014 state title on Norm Stewart Court.
And yet, the Texas transfer said the first memory that came to mind upon transferring to Missouri was the Tigers’ 74-71 win against Kansas in 2012.
“The gym was rocking,” said Barnett, who met with media Monday for the first time since his transfer. “That was like crazy. That’s the biggest memory I have.”
Having seen Mizzou Arena at its best, Barnett would like to help get it back there.
“Absolutely, I definitely want to play in a gym where it’s loud, it’s hard to hear,” he said. “That’s exciting, so that’s definitely something that I want to help bring back to this place.”
With the Tigers team slogging through a second consecutive season in the basement of the Southeastern Conference, it’s been a while since the men’s basketball team burst any eardrums at Mizzou Arena. That’s not news to Barnett.
“(I) want to help a team that I feel like needs some help,” he said, “so it all worked out coming back here.”
As a transfer, it will be a year before Barnett can help on the floor. But Barnett, who enrolled at Missouri before this semester, believes he still has plenty to offer.
“I feel like I have a decent perspective on the game from having played with two different coaches already, and now it’s going to be three in two and a half years,.” said Barnett, who played under Rick Barnes his freshman season and Shaka Smart last semester. “I feel like I know a lot of different perspectives from coaches and how they think and where they think you should be, and I feel like I can help the players understand that more.
“And also, I’m a part of scout team now so I can definitely play a player and help them understand his tendencies a lot better.”
Freshman Kevin Puryear, who also won a state title at Mizzou Arena in his final high-school game, likes what he’s seen from Barnett so far.
“He’s very skilled,” Puryear said. “He can shoot the ball. He’s really athletic and what I’ve seen out of him in our five-on-fives, he’s really good and he’s going to be a good player here, and I’m really excited to take the court with him.”
Puryear said Barnett has played mostly at the wing since coming to the Columbia, though he’s played inside some as well. He envisions Barnett as a strong-shooting small forward.
Coach Kim Anderson thinks Barnett could play some power forward as well, and wishes he were already eligible.
“He’s a good shooter, he’s got some size, he’s kind of a wing, 3-4 guy,” Anderson said. “Where he’ll ultimately end up fitting in, I don’t know, but he’s a good basketball player.”
And as for Barnett himself?
“I’m really both of those,” he said, when asked if he was a small or power forward. “But for the sake (of the argument), I’m more of a 3, and I’m more of an athletic 3 that likes to run the floor and can shoot a little bit.”
Missouri could use a boost offensively. The Tigers are second to last in the SEC in points per game.
“I think I can help out as a scoring push. From the games I’ve watched, they’ve had some trouble scoring a little bit,” Barnett said with a knowing smile, “but I think I could help a little bit and then add some more fastbreak opportunities.”
Barnett averaged 3.3 points per game his first year with the Longhorns and 1.9 points per game this year. He played in just four of Texas’ first eight games this year, logging more than 10 minutes only once. He acknowledged Monday playing time was a big part of his decision to transfer.
“Texas was really fun, but I decided that it was time to make a change for the better of myself,” he said. “… If I really wanted to pursue this basketball thing to another level then I felt like I needed to make a change for myself.”
Barnett said he was heavily recruited by former Missouri coach Frank Haith. Barnett went to plenty of games during the Tigers’ 30-win season in 2011-12, he said. But then “some other schools got on (his) radar” and he ended up going to Texas to play under Barnes.
Barnes landed immediately at Tennessee after being fired following Barnett’s freshman year, but Barnett said Missouri was his main focus once he decided to transfer. He spoke with assistant coach Corey Tate, who had been Barnett’s AAU coach with the St. Louis Eagles, and before long he was back in the Show-Me State.
“I was thinking,” Barnett said, “what better place to come back to than Missouri, where it seems like I should’ve been all along?”
Anderson said Monday sophomore guard Tramaine Isabell remains suspended for the time being. Isabell’s suspension was announced before Missouri’s loss Saturday to Mississippi State for his behavior in practice. He missed five games last season for similar reasons.
“I’ve had some good conversations with him,” Anderson said, “and I would anticipate, barring something unusual, that he would return to the team shortly. I don’t know that that’ll be (for Missouri’s game against Mississippi on) Wednesday, but I anticipate him coming back in the not too distant future.”