NC State’s Cat Barber Becoming an Elite Point Guard

Posted by Brad Jenkins (@bradjenk) on March 12th, 2015

ACC Microsite writers Matt Patton and Brad Jenkins will be reporting live from Greensboro at the 2015 ACC Tournament throughout the week.

A discussion of the top point guards in the ACC will mostly focus on Duke’s Tyus Jones, North Carolina’s Marcus Paige and Boston College’s Olivier Hanlan, but N.C. State’s Anthony “Cat” Barber may be playing better right now than any of his conference peers at the position. Last night the sophomore scored 34 points to lead his team past Pittsburgh in the ACC Tournament’s second round, propelling N.C. State into Thursday night’s quarterfinals against Duke, a team that the Wolfpack beat by 12 back in January.

Anthony Barber  (Photo by Liz Condo,

Anthony “Cat” Barber has improved dramatically over the ACC season. (Photo by Liz Condo,

With a solid win in its first ACC Tournament game, N.C. State should feel comfortable about receiving an at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament. And as their quality wins will attest (Louisville and North Carolina in recent weeks), the Wolfpack could prove a tough out for the rest of the postseason. A big reason for the team’s overall improvement has been the dramatic midseason turnaround made by Barber. After an inconsistent freshman year, the wiry guard from Newport News, Virginia, showed flashes of brilliance during the non-conference portion of this season before regressing over the first half of ACC play. During that stretch of early 2015, he was a shaky ball-handler, a hesitant shooter, and he even lost his starting spot for a couple games in late January. That’s when the proverbial light came on.

Cat BarberThe table above shows just how dramatic Barber’s improvement has been. Beginning with N.C. State’s overtime win at Georgia Tech on January 31, the sophomore has been on so much of a tear — especially in his scoring averages and shooting percentages — that it doesn’t even look like it could be the same player. Along with the already potent pair of Trevor Lacey and Ralston Turner, Barber’s emergence as a legitimate scorer gives N.C. State one of the most productive perimeter corps in college basketball. As a result, the Wolfpack’s offense has started to click and the defense has improved as well. Because Mark Gottfried doesn’t need much scoring from his big men, he can afford to play his best two interior defenders, BeeJay Anya and Lennard Freeman, together. Barber was 4-of-5 from long distance against the Panthers yesterday, putting his season three-point percentage at a robust 42.9 percent; but the amazing part of his newfound perimeter shooting is that he was a mere 5-of-20 in the first 22 games of the season! If Barber can keep his hot streak going as the competition improves and the pressure increases, N.C. State could be poised to make a significant run both this week and beyond.

Brad Jenkins (383 Posts)

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