Q+A: Will Barton
Memphis’ ‘main guy’ puts in work against CP3.
While I was checking out the Chris Paul Elite Point Guard Camp in Greensboro, I had a chance to sit down with Memphis star Will Barton. Coming off of a freshman year where he put up 12 points, 5 boards, and 3 assists per game, he’s looking to take his game to the next level as a sophomore. Expected by many (myself included) to be a potential one-and-done guy as a freshman, Barton himself admits that his debut campaign didn’t go quite as planned. The 6-6 combo guard seems to have his head on right, and was the most unstoppable 1-on-1 player in the entire camp. As you see in the video, he event put in work against CP3.
Will “The Thrill” and I chopped it up about what he learned from CP3, how he feels about playing in front of NBA scouts, and what to expect out of him as a sophomore.
SLAM: How are you liking things here at CP3 camp, man?
Will Barton: Everything’s going great. I’m having a great time out here with Chris Paul running the camp. He’s been real hands on playing with us, and giving us tons of pointers.
SLAM: What would you say that you’ve taken away the most from the camp thus far?
WB: Listen to everything that someone tells you no matter if they’re younger than you, older than you, or the same age as you. Everyone makes great points, so just listen to them. Don’t shut anyone out.
SLAM: Specifically, what’s the most important thing you walked away from this camp with skills-wise?
WB: Probably the ball handling drills. I always thought that I had a good handle, but I had more of a streetball handle. When we went through the cones, it was tough for me because you have to stay low with your dribble, keep your eyes up, and really see the floor.
SLAM: You had a nice season at Memphis this year. There were a lot of highs, but some lows. Everyone could see the talent, but you were a little inconsistent at times. What are your main goals for next year to make sure that doesn’t happen again?
WB: The main goals for next year are not to lose any conference games, so we can go into our out of conference games with not many losses. I want to win the conference regular-season title, which is something we didn’t do last year. I want to win the conference tournament again. I want to go deep into the tournament. I want to stay focused and work on a lot of mental things. Last year, I didn’t have the best mental strength but I’ve changed that over the summer by keeping my mind right and staying real focused. I want to stay real competitive because I like to compete and I like to win. I’m just going to stay out of my own way and be the best kid I can be.
SLAM: I mean, you still wound up runner-up for C-USA Freshman of the Year…
WB: I think that if I would have been a regular freshman without a lot of hype, my freshman season went great. The expectations that people had for me being one-and-done, I didn’t live up to. I had a so-so year. It wasn’t bad, but it wasn’t all good. Like you said, I was real inconsistent.
SLAM: Has Coach Pastner told you what he expects out of you as a sophomore? What’s your role going to be on the team?
WB: Yeah, he told me I’m the main guy. I have to lead. I have to be the best player on the team and in the conference. I have to work hard every day in practice, whether it’s scoring, being talkative with my teammates…I have to push them every day. If I’m the best player and I’m working hard, they’re going to follow my lead. But if I’m slacking, then they’re going to slack. He just wants me to be a leader and push my guys.
SLAM: You’ve played both guard positions your entire life, so you tell me… Are you a point guard or a shooting guard?
WB: I’m a natural scorer so a lot of people see me at the 2, but if you look at me closely, I love to pass, get out in the open floor, and set my teammates up. I think I can play either guard at the next level. Whatever the team that drafts me as and needs. I can defend a point guard or a 2-guard. With my height and length, I think I can play either one. It doesn’t really matter.
SLAM: You’ve got about 10 NBA scouts here, all with their eyes on you. Does playing in front of NBA scouts ever make you nervous?
WB: Nah. I’ve been playing in front of scouts in high school. I know where they’re at. They come to practices, they come to the games, and stuff like that. Obviously they’re coming to see you, so you know they like your game so you don’t try to do anything that you wouldn’t usually do because they already have all types of reports on you. They know what your strengths are, they know what your weaknesses are so I feel they’re coming to see what type of kid you are mentally and how you work.
SLAM: What are you going to show people this upcoming season that they may not have necessarily seen in you before?
WB: I’m going to show everyone that I can defend better. Anyone who has watched me this summer has been impressed by my defense. I could always lock up, but it was just a mental thing with me. I want to show people that I can run my team and be a better team leader. Do the things that I’ve always been doing; Score, rebound, get assists and fill up the stat sheet. I want to show people that I’m a winner.