Will Barnes is a 27 year old 185cm point guard from Tuscaloosa, Alabama that recently completed his second professional season and first with the Hamburg Towers. With Hamburg he played 28 games averaging 13.8ppg, 3.1rpg, 2.5apg, 1.2spg, FGP: 50.3%, 3PT: 28.8%, FT: 77.1% He started his basketball career in 2006 for Tennessee Tech (NCAA) where he played a total of 98 NCAA games. In 2012-2013 he played at Lee (NAIA) playing 34 games: 20.0ppg, 4.1rpg, 2.6apg, FGP: 50.3%, 3PT: 41.0%, FT: 77.7%. Last season as a rookie he played for the Finke Baskets playing 29 games: Score-3(18.8ppg), 3.5rpg, 3.4apg, FGP: 64.3%, 3PT: 37.2%, FT: 75.8%. He spoke to German Hoops about basketball.
Will thanks for talking to German Hoops. Where are you at the moment and how has your summer has been?
Hello Miles, it’s always a pleasure getting to talk to you! At the moment I am in Indianapolis, Indiana, training with Anthony Young and Qdar Owens. They’re two good friends of mine that have pro experience. The level of basketball in this city and state is elite. I’ve been playing against great pros (overseas & NBA) to prepare myself for the upcoming season.
You stayed in Germany an extra month to get fit again. How difficult was your injury that you had last season and did it effect you a bit mentally?
Yes, I worked with a trainer and friend, Melvin Wiredu. He did a great job helping me get my knee back fit at a very fast pace. He helped me strengthen the deep muscles that help prevent further injury and increase my overall physical health. A lot of the credit goes to the job he did helping me! But the injury was difficult mentally mainly because of the timing. I hurt it the last game of the regular season with the Hamburg Towers which kept me out of the playoffs. I worked super hard during the season and offseason for that exact moment, the playoffs. I was still able to be a mental help to my team. But for a competitor like myself, it just wasn’t the same.
The most important question now is are you 100% again? What makes you most happy now with your body on the court that you are able to function again like a complete basketball player?
Yes, I am 100% fit. The work I put in with Melvin Wiredu combined with the daily routine he advised for to continue with through the summer has me completely fit and ready to play. I have always been a hard worker, but I worked even harder this summer. My body and skills have been taken to the next level. I was blessed with great facilities to use on an everyday basis, great training with professionals, and also very encouraging words and advice from my family and close friends. They all saw the difference on how focused I was on this upcoming season. I have the burn in my heart to explode again like I did my rookie season.
You are a point guard that had to play more shooting guard last season. What strides do you feel you made having played more the shooting guard position last year?
Yes, last year was definitely an adjustment having to play off of the ball so much. I did some facilitating and ball handling, but it was almost strictly through set pick and rolls. I am very effective in the open court and fast breaks also. I often found myself filling in the gaps instead of leading these breaks last season. But with that said, I definitely improved overall. I improved tremendously moving without the ball. My coach was on me constantly throughout the season about always moving. I was most of the time a heavy focus for the opponent’s defense so I had to work extra hard to get easy buckets. I gained the knowledge of how to make good cuts, moving off of penetration, and spacing out the floor while the ball is in the post. My pick and roll game improved tremendously also. I played with some great point guards last season and was able to pick up how they utilized every player as opposed to just focusing on the roller and scoring from the P&R. My team and 1 on 1 defense was the biggest improvement though. Coach Hamed was dedicated to helping me become a better defender. Especially on P&R’s. We constantly watched film together to pick out details and mistakes. This helped my understanding tremendously.
It is the beginning of August and you are still available. Are you getting a bit uneasy that you haven´t found the security yet of having a team for your third professional season?
Yes, I have found myself getting very anxious and uneasy. Especially considering the solid seasons I played in Germany for my first 2 years professionally. But nevertheless, I haven’t let it effect my work ethic and confidence in myself. I continue to work hard, pray, and keep the confidence I’ve had throughout my career. I have no doubts at all that whoever decides to sign me will be thrilled with their decision. Having to wait longer just makes me even hungrier to perform at an elite level this season!
You had two solid seasons with Paderborn and Hamburg and should be on a team for the next season. Do you believe that your injury woes last season might have scared off some teams?
Yes, I do believe this played a part. But if coaches & GM’s do the research, they will find out that last year was the first time I’ve had to miss games due to injury. I’ve always been complimented on being an “iron man” and being available to play a role throughout an entire season. The injuries last season were minor also. I never did any structural damage do any part of my body that required surgery or an operation of any kind. In a couple cases, I sat out in particular games because of the understanding Coach Hamed and I had. We constantly communicated and he would recommend that I rest my body and just focus on the next opponent. And as far as my knee injury, it wasn’t nearly as severe as people may have perceived. Within 3 weeks, I was back in the gym participating in workouts with my trainer. I don’t have a background of being an injury prone type player. Last season was just the worst I’ve had in my career so far. But with these experiences, I’ve gained more knowledge of the importance of physical therapy, rest, how to train in the weight room properly, and also how to utilize exercises that can be performed at home.
There has been interest from some German pro A teams, but in the end you were always on the short list. Were your experiences in Paderborn and Hamburg worthwhile that you would like to continue your career here?
Yes of course, I would love to return to the German Pro A league. The quality of basketball in this league is very high and is only getting better year by year. I proved that I am a top guard in the league in my first two seasons, no matter who I play against and who else is in the league. I noticed even more last season with the respect and preparation I received from defenses. I know that I have a high impact on the games I play in. Last season, I developed even more ways to be effective than before, and I am always looking to improve even more.
SC Rasta Vechta is still looking for a point guard and there have been rumors that a Carlos Medlock is in talks. What memories do you have from the games with Vechta last season? You had 23 and 13 point games. Is this a place where you could imagine playing for?
Yes, Rasta Vechta was a great & exciting club to play against. Their fans were very supportive of them and extremely loud! I have much respect for their players and club. I played very well against them last season, especially at home. The games against Vechta are actually the two that stick out the most because of the incredible intensity and fan support! It was amazing and reminded me of rivalry games I’ve played in back in college and high school! If the opportunity presented itself, I would without a doubt love to play my heart out for them. They are a proven club that has been very successful over the years; and I’ve heard nothing but great things about the club from players and coaches that I have talked to.
The basketball world is vast and so many countries to play. Would you be able to adapt to another style of play if you had for example have to play in South America or Asia?
Yes, I know that I could be just as effective if not more in other countries and markets. My game is very versatile and I pride myself on being efficient and very skillful. This is why I work as hard as I do on a day to day basis!
Please describe your game in a few sentences as to why you could help any team right now in the next season?
Well to add to the last question, my game is very versatile and skillful. My strongest asset is my ability to attack the basket and put pressure on the defense. Last season, I was able to develop this ability even more through a complex system with rules. I can be a threat off of screens, through pick and rolls, or break my man down one on one. I am also a consistent 3 point shooter. Even having to play through a broken finger last season, I feel I shot the ball well more often than not. The injury effected my shot but I managed. I also bring a fearless attitude. No matter how great the opponent, I am always coming with my best shot and I compete at a very high level. I also bring leadership. Last season I was captain of a first year club that had no expectations in the league. We proved to be a real threat in the German Pro A and made the playoffs in very first season of the club. I wasn’t just given this title either; our players and coaches voted on it. I’ve also noticed that my hard work and professional mindset is contagious. When it comes to getting a good workout before practice, getting up shots, doing yoga, or taking stretching serious. It always spreads to some of my teammates.
How does a normal work out day look like for you in the summer of 2015 on the court?
Well, in the morning I always lift first and get a ball handling workout in. I’m very obsessive of having a strict schedule and sticking to it. I plan weeks at a time and focus on what to develop. I later get in the gym and do numerous drills and skill work. I always have friends that love to get in the gym with me to pick up what exactly I do. I love this feeling because it lets me know that people not only notice, but they also see that it works! Hard work is the only way to separate yourself from the pack. I don’t want to be just average, I aim to be an elite player that wins games. Winning is the goal that I have at the top of my list because I see how players are rewarded that consistently win championships.
What is the state of Lebron James in 2015? Will he ever be mentioned in the same breath as a Michael Jordan?
Lebon James is great man. No other way to put it. What he did in the 2015 playoffs was amazing. I’m not his biggest fan but one would have to be blind not to notice the incredible impact he has on the game. I don’t think he will surpass MJ’s greatness, but he is this eras Jordan rather one wants to admit it or not. What I respect about him most is the media labeled him a superstar in middle school. And instead of letting the hype go to his head, he worked hard to become everything that people that was capable of.
What was the last movie that you saw?
The last movie I saw was Jurassic World. Great movie!
Thanks Will for the chat.