Despite pedestrian numbers during his season-plus at Texas, expectations were high for Jordan Barnett when he first suited up for the Tigers. For the most part, Barnett lived up to those expectations.
When Missouri was playing its best basketball, it usually coincided with Barnett playing his.
#21 Jordan Barnett
6'7" 215 lbs
During a three-game stretch where Mizzou won twice and nearly beat Texas A&M on the road, Barnett was a problem, averaging 21 PPG and nearly 7 rebounds. The ceiling for the Tigers became much more apparent when the outside shot was falling — his 52% clip from deep during the same stretch showed what was so desperately needed from this roster for so long: a reliable scorer.
He wasn’t perfect in his reliability, but his presence made Mizzou a more dangerous offensive team. A true shooting percentage in the mid-50’s and a %of shots at nearly 25% are reasons why Barnett helped stabilize the Tiger offense once he was finally eligible.
There were only seven games where Barnett didn’t score in double figures, and two of those games were the first two he played. Considering Barnett hadn’t seen regular action in over two years, it was easy to see why he didn’t quite come out of the gate firing.
Barnett is an elite level athlete (as evidenced by the picture above), something else severely lacking from the Missouri roster. He had several highlight level dunks during the season and was able to provide sparks with his playmaking ability. Mizzou coaches pressed Barnett to be more assertive, and when he was assertive it was fun to watch.
With only one more season of eligibility remaining, Barnett will look to participate in the resurrection of Missouri hoops. His ability to knock down open shots will be a handy tool next season as Cuonzo Martin tries to add more playmakers to the roster, and Barnett can play a nice complement to Michael Porter Jr. and whoever else comes along.
It was going to be damn near impossible for Barnett to come in and live up to the hype that was heaped on him before he played a single game for Mizzou, and in that first game (that startling loss to E. Illinois), he looked like someone who hadn’t played a meaningful game in a year. Then, as he got more comfortable and got his basketball legs under him, he became the player everyone hoped he would be.
With him on the floor, you felt immediately better about Mizzou’s chance to win, a feeling I don’t imaging people had since Frank Haith’s NIT team. He could score, grab a decent number of rebounds and when defending didn’t put himself in foul trouble.
Going into his senior season, the biggest thing he has to work on is getting to the free throw line a bit more. For a player of his size, you’d like to see him consistently taking 6-8 free throws a game. I’m looking forward to seeing what he can do in year two, and I want to thank Corey Tate for the one tangible thing he did in his year at Mizzou — recruiting JB home.
Mizzou was an incredible 3-20 with Barnett in uniform, so you can’t say he made a tangible impact on the bottom line. But he was Step 1 in creating a truly interesting Mizzou offense. With him as a frequently viable No. 1 option, that allowed everybody to jump down in weight class — Kevin Puryear and Terrence Phillips could be the No. 2 and No. 3 guys instead of No. 1 and No. 2.
In theory, if Michael Porter Jr. plays like we all assume he will, Barnett could become one hell of a No. 2 himself. He made 59% of his 2-pointers, and after starting just 8-for-37 on 3-pointers (22%), he finished 28-for-83 (34%). That’s not elite, but it’s good for this team, at least.
Chris is right: If Barnett can add a couple more trips to the line per game to his portfolio, good things will happen. He’s an excellent free throw shooter, and if defenses are more strained because of Porter, he could be in better attacking position. He was a semi-efficient No. 1 for Mizzou this year, and he could be an ultra-efficient No. 2 next year.