COOKEVILLE, Tenn. - Terrell Barnes, a 6-foot-8 senior forward
from Riverdale (Ga.) High School has signed a national letter of
intent to play at Tennessee Tech University, the first announced
signee for seventh-year coach Mike Sutton.
A highly skilled player, Barnes is extremely versatile, according to Sutton.
"Terrell is a forward who can handle the ball," Sutton said. "He can shoot, he's a good passer, and he has a really good understanding of the game. He makes players around him better, he finishes around the basket and he does the little things right. He's willing to do whatever it takes to make the team better.
"We're excited about him, because he'll fit into our program very well," Sutton added. "We lose Daniel (Northern) and Ra'Shun (Bryant) next year, so he fits in exactly where we need him in the post."
Drawing from the experiences of his brother, Chris, a sophomore forward at the University of Georgia, Barnes knows what's ahead when he moves to the college game.
"The game is way more physical and everybody is better, " Barnes said. "Once you go up, the competition is better. There's more thinking about the game. In high school, it's a lot of reacting."
His first priority upon graduating from Riverdale will be to hit the weight room, Barnes said.
"I have to get stronger. Everybody is bigger, stronger and faster, so I'll need to get in the weight room every day," he said.
He is playing his final season for Coach Derick Powell at Riverdale High School, helping the Raiders to the Region 2-4A championship last year and a trip to the Elite Eight of the Georgia State high school tournament.
"Terrell has the biggest ?upside' of any player we've ever had," Powell said. He has great potiential to become a premier college player because of his versatility and individual skills. He can handle the ball and shoot the ball, and he's by far the best prospect we've ever had."
Barnes worked his way into the starting lineup midway through his freshman season and has been in that role ever since.
"He rebounded the ball so well and he gave 100 percent," Powell said of Barnes' freshman campaign. "He was a big presence on the floor because he can do so many things."
Last winter, Barnes averaged 14 points and nine rebounds and contributed nearly two blocked shots per game. He also averaged nearly four assists per contest.
"That's really good for a post player," Powell said. "He's such an unselfish player and his greatest asset is his willingness to pass the ball."
After being named Most Improved Player on the team as a freshman, he won the school's Rebound Award as a sophomore while helping the team to the Final Four. Last year he was named Riverdale's Best All-Around Player.
"He has really developed," Powell said. "His shooting ability, his coordination and his court awareness have all improved. He has matured, and his responsibilities have grown over the past three years."
Barnes was impressed with Tennessee Tech as soon as he arrived on campus for his official visit.
"I loved it," Barnes said. "When I came on my visit with my parents, it felt like home. It feels like a place I can come in and contribute."
Assistant Coach Russ Willemsen spotted Barnes while he was a teammate of Kevin Murphy with the Georgia Stars, a team that has produced several Golden Eagles including Ra'Shun Bryant, Frank Davis and Murphy on the current roster, and former Tech standout Keyon Boyd.
"We had a lot of quality kids on our team last year, and Terrell was a very important piece from a leadership standpoint," said Troy Vincent, in his eighth season as head coach of the Georgia Stars.
"He was valuable from a versatility standpoint, because he played multiple positions. He can put the ball on the floor he has a good mid-range shot, he can play with his back to the basket and he can face you up. He can also guard most of the positions," Vincent said.
Barnes helped the Georgia Stars to a 52-11 record last summer.
"I think his transition to the college game will be an extremely smooth transition." Vincent said. "He's been playing against older guys since he was 12 or 13, and he's been playing against college guys since he was a freshman.
"The stage isn't ever going to get too big for him," Vincent said. "His experience, his humility and his desire to get better will make for a smooth transition."
Terrell is the son of Ronald and Stephanie Barnes of Riverdale, located just south of Atlanta.