After a solid junior season as the Trojans’ starting point guard, Josh Barber is expected to have a big senior year.
Barber has been impressing coaches, teammates, and opponents in the offseason.
“I expect Josh to have a really big year,” Topeka High assistant coach Robbie Sanders said. “He’s worked very hard to become a better athlete and a better basketball player. His confidence has grown tremendously. I think he know it’s his time and he’s ready to show people what he’s capable of.”
Fellow senior teammate Duncan Whitlock said: “Josh is on top of his game and is taking care of business.”
It’s a different feel to the start of the season this year compared to last when Barber was in search for a role. He finished second on the team in scoring averaging 8.3 a game, which included a season-high 20 against Hayden on Feb. 28, along with 3.0 rebounds, 2.0 assists, and 1.2 steals.
“Last year I was more of a role player-type and this year I’m more of a leader and I have more experience and so the team kind of rallies behind me, but it’s good though,” said Barber, who is currently the seventh-ranked 2015 prospect in Topeka according to TopekaHoops.
In addition to improving his decision-making this season, Barber has improved his defense and wants to be a lock-down defender.
“I plan to play a lot better defense and I want to guard the other team’s best guard every night,” Barber said.
Barber recently poured in a game-high 22 points in a game for Top City at the Topeka West MAYB Tournament earlier this month and has been performing well during preseason practices leading up to the Dec. 11 season opener.
“It’s going pretty good, I just have to get back in the flow of it because I had to sit out a little bit this summer (with an injury), but for the most part it’s going pretty good,” Barber said.
Topeka High returns a number of key players from last year’s 13-9 season and Barber likes what he’s seeing form the team so far.
“I’m seeing a lot of good things—effort, intensity, and good ball movement,” Barber said. “We still have places to improve on, but it’s looking good so far.”
A minor knee injury slowed Barber in the summer, but he’s been on the court in full capacity for the last three to four months.
“It was very disappointing, Top City went to a couple big tournaments that I wanted to be a part of with some coaches there,” Barber said.
But the injury is behind Barber, who will begin his senior season with the Trojans, who open their season on Dec. 11 against Wichita Word of Life in the CNB Tournament in Leavenworth.
“It’s real exciting,” Barber said. “Every day in practice we’ve got to get better for the first game. I’m ready, my teammates are ready, and the coaches are ready. It’s going to be a good season.”
Following the three-game tournament, Topeka High will face rival Highland Park on Dec. 16.
“It’s going to be good for us because we need to see some teams out of city and a tune-up before we play Highland Park,” Barber said.
Barber has been impressed with junior guards Machias Jackson and Jarin Downing.
“Machias is looking like a great point guard who can shoot the ball, can handle it, and really gets after it on defense,” Barber said. “And Jarin can score the basketball, that’s what he does.”
Jackson and Downing are part of a deep backcourt, which also includes Whitlock and seniors Tyrece Parker, Jordaan Ramirez-Jennings, and Elijah Keith.
“It’s good, we can play at a fast pace and out-run teams and I don’t have to worry about getting tired and coming out of the game because I know I have teammates who can come in and fill the role while I’m out,” Barber said.