Top NBA Prospects in the ACC, Part 8: Prospects #12-16 October 23, 2014
A consensus Top-25 high school recruit, Cat Barber was the fourth McDonald's All-American to commit to N.C. State in the Mark Gottfried era, but is the only one remaining after Tyler Lewis and Rodney Purvis transferred and T.J. Warren left for the NBA.
Measured at 6-2 with a 6-4 wingspan and a 168 pound frame two summers ago at the Lebron James Skills Academy, Barber has good size, average length and a relatively skinny frame that N.C. State now lists at 180 pounds. He's a top-shelf athlete, though, showing one of the quickest first steps in all of college basketball and end to end speed that few can match.
Like his team as a whole, Barber's freshman campaign was somewhat up and down, as he began the season on the bench, then was inserted into the starting lineup after the Wolfpack dropped two of their first four games, only to be relegated back into a reserve role for the final 14 games of the season.
He played 24 minutes per game on average, a fairly significant role for a freshman, splitting ball-handling responsibilities with fellow McDonald's All-American point guard Tyler Lewis, who has since moved onto Butler. Barber was neither an incredibly prolific (14.2 points per-40 minutes) or efficient (48% TS%) scorer, even if he showed promise as a playmaker, dishing out 5.9 assists per-40 minutes with a solid 2/1 assist to turnover ratio and 2.6 pure point rating.
N.C. State played at a relatively slow-tempo last season, and typically resorted to one on one play or off the dribble jumpers when things bogged down, which meant the offense didn't always look like a thing of beauty. Despite the lack of rhythm and cohesiveness the team suffered at times on this end of the floor, Barber still did a solid job of getting his primary scorers T.J. Warren and Ralston Turner the ball in spots they liked to score. While not a brilliant game-manager at this stage, and certainly not immune to making careless mistakes, Barber did a solid job of getting others involved last season, particularly as the year moved on.
Exactly half of Barber's touches last season came either in pick and roll or isolation situations, and he's a terrific ball-handler who is extremely difficult to stay in front of thanks to how shifty and slithery he is creating offense. This comes in very handy in the open floor, where he sees a good amount of his offense as well, and is able to draw fouls on nearly a quarter of his transition opportunities according to Synergy Sports Technology.
While Barber sports a killer crossover and can blow by the opposition at will with his dynamite first step, he doesn't always know what to do once he's past his man. He's not a great finisher around the basket, converting just 46% of his shots inside the paint last season according to Synergy, as his frail frame makes it difficult to make plays in traffic and he does not possess great touch on his floaters or layups. He loves to drive left, but avoids finishing with his left hand like the plague, which makes for some very awkward finishes around the rim that opposing defenses quickly caught onto and looked to exploit regularly last year.
Barber also struggled badly with his jump-shot last season, making just 12 of his 46 (26%) 3-point attempts, causing defenses to go underneath the screen regularly any time he attempted to initiate a pick and roll. Barber tried to punish them by shoot a large volume of off the dribble jumpers, and found mixed results with that strategy, hitting 36% of his pull-ups. While that's a decent percentage for such a difficult shot, at .741 points per possession, it's something opposing defenses were happy to concede to him whenever he wanted.
Improving his outside shot should be a major priority for Barber considering the value NBA teams place on this facet of the game these days. He seemed to be making strides with shooting as his high school career progressed, as he hit 20 of his 47 3-point attempts (43%) in EYBL play the summer prior to his junior year, and then converted 37/88 (42%) prior to his senior year in the same competition. The additional foot of distance and stingier defenses didn't treat him well in moving to the college game, so it will be interesting to see if he can improve this aspect of his game as a sophomore.
Barber actually has decent mechanics on his jumper with time and space, but struggles badly with his accuracy and touch, coming up with some terrible misses last season where he shot the ball way left or right. This is somewhat of a concern, as it's difficult to make too many adjustments to correct this problem, but the small sample size of attempts does leave some room for optimism that he can figure things out eventually, which he'll certainly need to do.
Defensively, Barber has outstanding potential, as he has quick feet and tremendous lateral quickness, giving him the ability to put excellent pressure on the ball. He can hound his man as he brings the ball up the floor, or play excellent one on one defense in the half-court, even if his focus tends to waver somewhat from time to time.
N.C. State had a difficult time stopping their opponents last season, finishing twelfth in the ACC in defensive efficiency, and Barber's lapses here didn't help. Like many young players, he struggles to stay effective defending off the ball, as he loses his intensity as the possession moves on and tends to fall asleep in his stance. His lack of length makes him easy to shoot over and renders him mostly ineffective in closeout situations, and his frail frame makes it difficult for him to fight over screens. Barber has just average fundamentals on this end of the floor, and doesn't always display the type of hustle you'd like to see—something that is certainly improvable with maturity, good coaching and experience.
With ACC player of the year T.J. Warren off to the NBA, and Tyler Lewis out of the picture, Cat Barber has the reigns to the N.C. State offense all to himself this year, which should tell us quite a bit about what kind of prospect he is long term. [Read Full Article] High School Class of 2013: Elite Prospect Scouting Reports September 5, 2012 Jonathan Givony
-Good size for a point guard at 6-2, with a 6-4 wingspan
-Incredibly fast with ball
-Great in transition
-Can drive left or right
-Can play pick and roll
-Explosive finisher around the basket
-Good timing on drive. Can play at different speeds
-Can create for others in drive and dish situations
-Can make shots from outside
-Can pull-up off the dribble
-Has developed an in-between game
-Never changes his face. Never looks rattled
-Can put outstanding pressure on the ball defensively
-Gets lots of steals with his quick hands
-Brandon Knight/Ty Lawson-esqe.
-Needs to continue to add strength to his 168 pound frame
-Struggles to finish around the basket at times
-Perimeter shooting has improved, but still needs work
-Shooting mechanics aren't great. Release is low, and slow
-Has room to improve as a playmaker in the half-court
-Doesn't possess great leadership skills. Not a great communicator amongst teammates.
Speedster in the Ty Lawson mold. Can get to wherever he wants on the floor, both in transition and in half-court situations. Top-shelf point guard prospect.