Antonio Barton ready for his Memphis debut

After a nearly two-month sneak preview of life as a college basketball player, Antonio Barton was back on familiar ground Saturday.

Fresh off a summer-school stint at Memphis, the former Lake Clifton point guard turned out for the Bmorehoops.com 6th Anniversary Celebration at The Dome in East Baltimore on Saturday. Barton said his introduction to college life was a positive experience.

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"It's lovely [at Memphis]," said Barton, who committed to the Tigers in June 2009. "It's very supportive and with the schoolwork, the teachers help you out a lot. It's just lovely down there."

The 6-foot-2, 165-pound Barton recently suited up for the Tigers in a foreign tour of the Bahamas. In Memphis' 142-64 win over Cyborts, Barton scored seven points to go along with three rebounds and a game-high seven assists. "It was a good experience," Barton said. "We got to bond as a team and got to know each other better. At the end of the day, it was just fun. I had never been over there. … I'm a defensive stopper and I make everybody better. So basically, as long as I get my players involved, we win. Really my scoring, I don't worry about that. I just want to make everybody better."

In his lone season at Lake Clifton, Barton teamed with older brother Will to lead the Lakers to an undefeated season and the Class 3A state championship. A second-team Baltimore Sun All-Metro selection, Barton finished high school and moved to Fitchburg, Mass., for a post-grad year at Notre Dame Prep.

With Barton in Notre Dame Prep's backcourt, the Crusaders advanced to the quarterfinals of the National Prep Championship and finished with a 27-8 record. He averaged 16 points, seven rebounds and four assists on the season. The prep-school experience, Barton said, improved his work ethic and made him "a stronger person."

Barton and the Tigers open the 2010-11 season with a home exhibition game against Lemoyne-Owen College. While Barton's already had a taste of the college life, he can't wait to start his basketball career with the Tigers.

"It's like you can't even explain it," Barton said of the atmosphere in Memphis. "If we walked in the room the same time as the Memphis Grizzlies, everyone would run to us. We're the No. 1 team there. Every time we play at FedEx [Forum], we sell it out. It's all good. I love it."

Baltimore Sun photo of Antonio Barton by Kim Hairston / March 14, 2009

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