Transfer jumps right into action at point guard spot

Emily Arthur

Tim Barnes is fidgety.

It’s his first media day in an Iowa State uniform and he can’t keep still.

He bounces nervously from one foot to the other and his answers are short and precise, each one followed with a nervous laugh.

“I don’t really like the limelight too much,” Barnes said.

“I’m just shy, just a normal guy.”

Shy he might be. Normal he’s not.

Barnes comes into this season with a lot of pressure on his shoulders.

The Southeastern Illinois Community College transfer will see immediate time at point guard, a position the Cyclones struggled at last season.

Junior Jake Sullivan is back and expected to spend some time at the point and freshman Adam Haluska could see some minutes there as well, but sophomore Ricky Morgan has stepped back from his basketball responsibilities to concentrate on school and to ponder his athletic future.

With the departure of Morgan, Barnes may have a more clear-cut path to the starting role.

“Barnes is a good player,” ISU head basketball coach Larry Eustachy said of the 6-foot junior. “He makes good decisions, he’s quick with the ball, but he has to stay healthy. He’s a real true point guard that can shoot, so I’m anxious to see how he stacks up against the better point guards in the league.”

Barnes earned second-team All-American honors last season by averaging 19.4 points per game, 7.2 assists per game and 2.1 steals per game while at Southeastern Illinois and was touted as the nation’s No. 1 junior college point guard prospect.

He also led Southeastern Illinois to a school record 26 wins in each of his two seasons and led his team to a 26-7 record and a Region XXIV Championship game appearance last season, while shooting 46.7 percent from three-point range.

Barnes chose Iowa State over Auburn, Texas Christian, Oklahoma, Marquette and DePaul.

“The thing about Barnes is that he can go down the court and really pick up and create havoc and bother people,” Eustachy said. “He came in here weighing 155 and he’s gained 15 pounds, so he is 170. In spite of his lack in size and weight, he’s deceivingly strong.”

Barnes said he put on the weight by lifting, working out and eating well.

“Lots of carbs and protein,” he said. “Eating good — that’s what it’s all about.”

And the extra weight hasn’t seemed to slow his down.

“He’s probably as quick as most guards in our league,” Eustachy said. “He can probably outrun anybody on our team besides Haluska with the ball when the other doesn’t have the ball. He’s that fast with the ball, and he’s an excellent shooter.”

Despite all the things Eustachy likes about Barnes, he said there are still some areas the point guard needs to improve in.

Although Barnes said it feels fine now, he had been battling a left ankle injury for quite some time.

“This is his fourth year out of high school. He got hurt his first year in junior college, so he is an older guy,” Eustachy said. “He needs to stay healthy.”

Eustachy said a lot of that will have to do with how Barnes adjusts to Division I basketball.

“Barnes is not nearly as tough as he needs to be based off the competition we’re going to play,” Eustachy said. “It worked in junior college.”

Barnes said he feels like the transition is going well.

“I feel I’ve matured more since the first time I went to school,” Barnes said. “At the same time, it’s just like being a freshman all over again.”

He said he’s especially excited about what Big 12 basketball has to hold.

“The Big 12 is one of the best conferences. If I can’t play here, I can’t play nowhere,” Barnes said. “It’s not hard to get yourself up for a game.”

Eustachy hopes he’s right.

He said he sees a lot of potential in Barnes and said he enjoys being around him.

“Great guy, the kind of guy you want to go on vacation with,” Eustachy said. “His pain threshold is not where it’s going to be but it’s where it should be. His mental toughness is where it should be but not where it’s going to be.”