Photo courtesy of Dave’s Joint.
By David Cordova
Whenever Scottie Barnes is on the court, there are plenty of things that can be said about him. Competitor, athlete and a person who is driven to win. All of those are accurate.
The 6-foot-8 senior forward, who is rated as the No. 4 overall prospect in the Class of 2020 by ESPN, has been one of the premier players in the state of Florida since his freshman season and has catapulted that into national success on the Nike EYBL circuit and beyond. In a few months, his skills will be showcased on channels like the ACC Network, ESPN or ABC when he takes the floor for the Florida State Seminoles next season.
When asked what motivates him to be successful in the game of basketball, he replied, “Just my drive, my passion for the game, I just want to excel. Every time I step on the court, I just want to win every game. So that pushes me to just be great on the floor.”
A native of West Palm Beach, Florida, Barnes is one of the premier players in the Sunshine State, which has a culture of talented and athletic players that have risen to prominence. On the basketball culture in his city and in his home state, Barnes replied, “When I was younger, we just always played ball in the streets, we played in like local gyms. I watched my brother play basketball, and he’s like two, three years older than me, and I just wanted to play with him and his basketball team, so I just pushed myself to be able to play on his team.”
On the strengths and weaknesses in his game, he replied, “I feel like my strengths is defense, my intensity, my energy level [that] I bring to the floor, I feel like my weakness is I need to be a better shooter and be consistent, work on my footwork, and catch and shoot into my shot.”
Barnes, known for his amazing dunks, has a vertical leap that is out of this world. When asked about his secret to his jumping ability, he replied, “Basically, I just use Vertimax a lot, now, since I’ve been at Montverde [Academy], they had us on a training program, [working on] our bodies and help us get in better shape.”
As a high school freshman, he started out at Cardinal Newman High School, a powerhouse program in his hometown. He earned the MaxPreps Freshman All-American Team Honorable Mention honors and led his squad to a 19-8 record and a berth in the FHSAA Class 5A state semifinals.
In his sophomore season, he transferred to the University School, an elite academic institution in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, and along with forward Vernon Carey, Jr., who recently finished his freshman season at Duke University and is expected to be a first-round pick in this year’s NBA Draft, helped the Sharks become a formidable force on the national level. As a junior, he averaged 13.1 points, seven rebounds and 4.8 assists per game.
In his two seasons at the U-School, as the school is commonly referred to, he helped lead the squad to two consecutive FHSAA Class 5A state championships, two appearances at the GEICO Nationals Tournament in New York City and a 63-7 record.
“My two years at U-School was amazing, with Coach Jim Carr and Adrian Sosa, he was there my first year, they treated me so well, so I really got close with that program, and the school itself is just a great place to be, great environment, I was blessed to be a part of that,” he replied.
After playing for the now-defunct Nike Team Florida in the Nike EYBL the last couple of years, he made a big splash last summer with Nightrydas Elite, alongside another top-flight prospect, Isaiah Todd, who will be playing in the NBA G-League developmental program. Nightrydas went on a roll throughout the summer and made it all the way to the Nike Peach Jam in North Augusta, South Carolina.
When asked about playing in the Nike EYBL, considered to be the elite grassroots league, Barnes replied, “Nike Team Florida, it was great, and Nightrydas, it was really different, ‘cause I’ve played with more people from around the area and stuff, so it went very well, I felt like we were very close together.”
This past season at Montverde Academy, he averaged 11.6 points, 6.5 rebounds and 4.6 assists per game, and helped lead the Eagles to a No. 1 national ranking and an undefeated record of 25-0. Because of his play, Barnes received All-American honors courtesy of MaxPreps and Sports Illustrated. And if not for the COVID-19 pandemic, he would’ve been able to participate in three major all-star games, such as the Nike Hoop Summit in Portland, Oregon, the Jordan Brand Classic in Chicago, Illinois and the McDonald’s All-American Game in Houston, Texas.
Last October, after fielding offers from schools such as Kentucky, Miami and Oregon, he decided to stay closer to home and chose Florida State as his collegiate destination.
When asked why he signed with the Seminoles and what can be expected from him in the ACC, Barnes replied, “What made me commit to Florida State was the intensity they bring in practice, I saw it was a different culture, I liked the coaches and the relationships with the players, it was amazing, he [Leonard Hamilton, Florida State’s head coach] treated everyone the same, it was just like a real brotherhood, and I really liked it.”
Now that he’s accomplished 107 wins, two state championships and a national championship on the high school level, Scottie Barnes is ready for the rigors and the bright lights of the ACC, one of college basketball’s most prestigious conferences. Under Coach Hamilton’s system, he will definitely flourish and be the best player he can be.