After announcing last month that he was leaving Memphis, Antonio Barton said he thought Maryland “would be a good fit” in order to finish his college basketball career.
After meeting with Terps coach Mark Turgeon and members of the team on a trip to College Park earlier this month, the 6-foot-2 point guard said the visit “went tremendous.”
But that was before Tennessee, after dismissing junior point guard Trae Golden from the team, became involved in recruiting Barton.
Hours after his older brother Will tweeted Barton’s plans to play for the Volunteers, the former Lake Clifton standout told the Associated Press on Sunday that he had chosen to play his senior year in Knoxville for the Tigers' in-state rivals.
“I’m so excited,” said Barton, who had two of his best games playing against the Volunteers as a junior, scoring a career-high 21 points in an overtime win in the Maui Invitational and 19 points in a game later that season. “I’m just ready to get started as quick as possible. At the end of the day, I have to do what’s best for me.”
Efforts by The Baltimore Sun to reach Barton on Sunday were unsuccessful.
Barton left Memphis after three years because his playing time dropped from nearly 25 minutes a game as a freshman to less than 17 minutes a game last season, and his scoring dropped from a career-high 8.2 points a game his first year to 5.6 points a game last season. Barton’s decision to leave Memphis came when fellow junior Joe Jackson announced he was returning for his senior year.
At the time that he announced he was leaving Memphis, Barton said playing time would be the most important factor in where he would go. In his interview with the Associated Press, Barton indicated that playing time was not the only factor in his decision.
“Tennessee had the best chance of me coming in and winning – not only playing right away – but they have all the pieces from shooting guard to small forward to even guys coming off the bench and the coaching staff,” Barton said.
The Volunteers finished 20-13 and lost in the opening round of the NIT last season to Mercer at home.
Barton will be able to play right way because he is expected to graduate this summer from Memphis.
Tennessee officials could not confirm Barton was transferring until the paperwork was completed, the Associated Press reported. Barton did not inform Maryland coaches of his plans, according to a source close to Turgeon.
With Barton out of the picture, Maryland can continue looking for a player who fits his profile – one with big-game experience who will be eligible to play next season. There are a few who will have immediate eligibility, but none currently that played in a high-profile program such as Memphis.
If Maryland decides not to pursue another point guard, it appears that Turgeon will go with a combination of rising sophomore Seth Allen and incoming freshman Roddy Peters of Suitland at the position.
Allen, who averaged 7.6 points in 22 minutes as a starter and reserve, was obviously paying attention to Barton’s decision.
“You gotta ask yourself who gunna be here in the long run,” Allen tweeted Sunday morning.