Anthony "Cat" Barber had a wildly successful junior campaign from an individual standpoint, finishing seventh in the nation in scoring at 23.5 points per game while being named to the All-ACC 1st team. The former McDonald's All-American has made some substantial strides as a pro prospect since his inconsistent freshman year, and after three collegiate seasons, made the decision to move on to the next phase of his basketball career, which makes sense considering he turns 22 in a few months.
While Barber found plenty of individual success, the same can't be said about N.C. State, which underachieved badly in finishing just 5-13 in the ACC and 16-17 overall despite having plenty of talent to go around relative to teams that finished ahead of them. NBA teams will have to decide how much of that to attribute to Barber and how much to that the dysfunctional situation the Wolfpack found themselves in this season.
Barber's professional potential starts with his speed and ability to use it with the ball in his hands, as he is easily one of the quickest players in this draft class. Few defenders can stay in front of him off the dribble, as he possesses high end speed, great acceleration and impressive shiftiness while in motion. He can stop and cut in an instant to lose his defender off the dribble.
The rest of his physical profile is enough to keep NBA teams intrigued, with a measured height of 6'2” and wingspan of 6'4” that doesn't leap off the page, but complements his speed well. He still has some room to fill out his frame, but will need to add only enough to sustain a full season of professional play with his game being built on speed rather than strength.
Barber was the engine of the N.C. State offense, having the ball in his hands a majority of the time and always looking to create shots. Most of his offensive possessions ended with him creating offense for himself off the dribble, with almost 75% of his shots coming from isolation, pick and roll or transition opportunities as logged by Synergy Sports Technology.
Although he has plenty of experience as a primary ball-handler, his decision making still needs to be refined as he moves to the next level. Barber will force low-efficiency, highly contested shots early in the clock at times, but also has a tendency to pass up open three pointers that his coach would be happy with him taking. He's always attacking, but he can get himself into trouble by trying to beat multiple defenders in transition or by driving into the heart of the defense in the half-court when it would be better to move the ball and attack from a different spot on the floor.
He wasn't the most efficient player, needing a lot of shots to get his points. He'll likely need to reduce his usage at the next level and improve his shot selection to balance his own scoring with getting his teammates involved, something he struggled with at times the past three years.
Barber is dangerous anytime he gets downhill offensively. He can be a one man fast break, making something out of nothing even if there are defenders in front of him as he can blaze right by them. He has some nice shake to his game and with his ability to change speeds in the half-court, he's capable of beating his defender in isolation situations or out of ball screens.
Once he gets past his defender, Barber can utilize his speed to get to the rim, but he can't always finish once he gets there. He converted just 49% of his attempts at the rim according to Synergy Sports Technology. He got his shot blocked often as many of his attempts are underhanded layups that are on a platter for rim protectors. He took just 22 runners and didn't display much touch on these attempts. He will need to develop this weapon to become a better finisher after he attacks the paint, because it doesn't appear as though he will be a great finisher in the restricted area with his average length and strength.
Barber is a capable pull-up jump shooter, converting 36.6% of his attempts per Synergy Sports Technology. He is a much improved shooter since his freshman season and finished his junior season at 36% beyond the arc, a more than acceptable mark to keep defenses honest if they sag off him to contain penetration. He will pull up from the three point line or at the elbow if his penetration is cut off. He does need to cut out the jump shots with this heels on the three point line which he takes far more than you would like, a component of his decision making that needs to be improved.
Another big area of improvement for Barber to boost his draft stock is his overall passing skill set. His pure point rating of 0.94 is a below average mark for point guards in our top 100. He was much more focused on his own offense and spent much of his time pounding the ball into the ground rather than keeping the ball moving. When he did pass, it was often as a last resort, and doesn't always put his teammates in position to score. In a smaller scoring role, becoming a more willing and accurate passer will make him more attractive to NBA teams, as it often looked like he was playing for himself, being more concerned with his stats than trying to win games.
Defensively, Barber has made some improvements, but doesn't project to be a big impact player. He's shown more of a commitment defensively this season, communicating to his teammates and sliding his feet more effectively guarding the ball. He can be lackadaisical at times defensively, not fighting hard through screens or taking the best route off the ball, relying on his speed to cover mistakes. He doesn't have the length to contest jump shots or the strength to ward off dribble penetration, limiting his overall potential.
With his quickness to create offense and ability to shoot off the dribble, Barber is in the mix to be drafted come June. To improve his chances, he will need to demonstrate improved decision making while accepting a lower usage role and at the same time, becoming a more willing passer to get his teammates involved.
While Barber clearly has talent, to stick in the NBA long term, he'll need to show that he can play a more winning style of basketball than what we often saw from him at N.C. State. He does not have a reputation for being the most coachable player in the world or the best teammate, even beyond his often poor body language, so he will have to show in the pre-draft process that these things won't be as much of a concern at the pro level. [Read Full Article]
Top NBA Prospects in the ACC, Part Nine: Prospects #21-25
October 15, 2015
Though Anthony “Cat” Barber finished his high school career as a McDonald's All-American and top-25 recruit in the class of 2013, he had a particularly rough transition into college basketball. As a freshman, Barber struggled with the speed of the game and ended the season coming off of the bench. He became a different player halfway through his sophomore season, however, emerging as North Carolina State's go-to option and leading the Wolfpack on a surprise run to the Sweet 16 . Barber developed into a player to watch in the process, but is he an NBA prospect?
At 6'2, Barber has solid size for the point guard position, even though he must continue to add weight to his skinny frame and his average length does him few favors. As his nickname suggests, however, he is incredibly quick both on and off of the ball, ranking among the quickest players in college basketball. Additionally, Barber can change directions on a dime, demonstrating excellent agility alongside of his speed.
Barber's 15.3 points per 40 minutes pace adjusted do not jump off of the page, but he came into his own as a scorer as the season progressed while showing intriguing versatility and increasing confidence in the process.
As was the case during his freshman season, Barber spent most of his time on the ball, seeing over 70% of his possessions in isolation, transition, and pick-and-roll situations. There are few players that can stay in front of him at this level, as his repertoire of moves, particularly his crossover, and quickness off of the dribble allow him to create separation with ease. He made an impressive 41.4% of his looks off of the dribble, which points to his potential as a shot creator, particularly in pick-and-roll situations. His 34.2% completion rate from mid-range leaves a bit to be desired, but this speaks more to his shot selection than it does his abilities as a scorer.
He developed as a jump shooter, as well, making 38.2% of his overall attempts while increasing his shooting efficiency metrics across the board. His perimeter shooting improved considerably, from 26.1% 3FG on 46 attempts as a freshman to 38% on 71 attempts as a sophomore. Most impressive, however, was the fact that he made 52.6% of his open catch-and-shoot looks. On film, his form from a standstill looks good, but his mechanics becomes inconsistent when he lacks the time and space to set up his shot. Therefore and while he has come a long way, he must continue to refine his shooting mechanics and improve his shot selection as a junior.
Barber made some impressive strides as a sophomore, but his weaknesses remain quite pronounced at this stage. He continued to noticeably struggle as a finisher around the basket, where he made an average 52.8% FG, including 47.4% of his looks in transition. He gets blocked frequently, as his lack of standout explosiveness, strength, and length significantly limit his ability to finish in the post. He still prefers to drive left while avoiding finishing with his left hand, which makes him somewhat predictable as a finisher, as well.
His abilities as a point guard remain a mixed bag, as well. Though Barber averaged 4.7 assists per 40 minutes pace adjusted and looked good operating out of the pick-and-roll, he continued to look for his own offense first and foremost. Likewise, as he became increasingly more essential to North Carolina State's offense, he struggled to move between distributing and scoring roles. His overall decision-making ability appeared quite raw, as it often seemed as though he left his feet and dribble into traffic often without knowing his next move. Scouts will be watching to see if he can become more comfortable leading North Carolina State's offense during his junior season, as he looks far more effective as a scorer than he did as a distributor at this point in his career.
While North Carolina State ranked among the worst defensive teams in the NCAA Tournament, Barber's individual defense also remains a work-in-progress. On the one hand, Barber's lateral quickness is top-notch and he can stay in front of collegiate guards when he is dialed-in. On the other, he still does not appear to be the most focused and aggressive defender. Furthermore, he still struggles in the pick-and-roll, as he lacks the strength to fight through screens and the length to contest shots. While he plays on a mediocre defensive team, he must prove to scouts that he can show the fundamentals and effort to excel at the next level despite his average length and lack of strength.
After dealing with some difficult circumstances off the floor, Cat Barber showed scouts what he was capable of at the collegiate level with a surge in his confidence and production late in the year. As a junior, he must do the same and more, continuing to display his versatile skill set while improving as a distributor. Barber's frame may limit his potential at the next level, but he shows elite quickness and his ability to operate out of the pick-and-roll should draw NBA interest if he can become more consistent. Regardless of his prospects at this stage, North Carolina State will need Cat Barber more than ever during his junior season and scouts will be watching to see if he can rise to the occasion. [Read Full Article]
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
-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.