Talented guard played for two former Nuggets staffers at
University of Memphis
By Aaron J. Lopez, Nuggets.com, 6-18-12
As Will Barton assessed his predraft workout at Pepsi Center,
Denver Nuggets coach George Karl interrupted with a handshake
and a friendly verbal jab.
"This guy's a little bit of a question mark," Karl said
with a smile. "The coaches down there (at the University of
Memphis) are a little questionable."
Karl was referring to former Nuggets video coordinator Jack
Murphy and former Nuggets media relations director Eric
Murphy, who was on Karl's staff from 2006-09, recently was
named men's basketball coach at Northern Arizona after
three years as a Memphis assistant. Sebastian just
completed his third year as director of basketball
operations at Memphis.
"Those guys, they're young and they're real passionate
about the game," Barton said. "That's what I liked the
Barton, 21, excelled in his two years under Memphis coach
Josh Pastner and his staff. He was named the 2011-12
Conference USA Player of the Year after averaging a
league-leading 18 points and eight rebounds as a sophomore.
"Will had an All-American-type year for us because of his
preparation," Sebastian said. "He approached the game like
a pro and it paid off for him and for us. He was the best
rebounding guard in the country and he has a mid-range game
that few can match."
Long and athletic, the 6-foot-6, 175-pound Barton is
projected as a mid-to-late first-round pick at the June 28
NBA Draft. Denver holds the 20th overall pick, as well as
the 38th and 50th selections.
After working out for about 10 teams over the past several
weeks, Barton has no idea where he will land.
"I try not to think about my projection," he said. "I go
into every workout thinking about competing, doing my best
and just seeing what happens. Everybody projects this and
projects that. You never know until June 28. It's just
about a team falling in love with you."
Barton believes he will be able to able to contribute to an
NBA team, regardless of location, because Memphis employed
a pro-style offense and played man-to-man defense almost
Denver, of course, would provide an additional comfort
level because of his Nuggets connections. He has been
talking to Murphy and Sebastian periodically during the
"They check on me all the time," Barton said. "I like to
hit them up sometimes to get advice. They just tell me to
keep working hard and go into every workout with a good
mindset and be ready to compete."
In addition to his competitive nature, Barton carries
himself with a self-confidence that was instilled by his
mother at an early age.
"My mom always told me to believe in myself," he said. "If
you don't think you're the best, you're probably not going
to last long in whatever you do. You have to have that
confidence to compete and make plays and try to be the best
each time you're on the court."
With three more predraft workouts on his schedule, Barton
is close to fulfilling his NBA dream.
"I'm just trying to push through it and get to June 28," he
said. "Then we'll see what happens."