Bloomington – What others might see as a daunting challenge, Kory Barnett sees as an inviting opportunity.
Barnett is one of at least 10 new faces that will be on the Hoosiers' 2008-09 roster, an overhaul made necessary in the aftermath of Kelvin Sampson's departure in February. The turnover and turmoil that's been a part of IU basketball for the last six months could lead to some trying times next season, but that didn't scare off Barnett when an offer came from Coach Tom Crean to be a preferred walk-on in the fall.
Instead, it's a situation and opportunity that he relishes.
"That's one of the things that's going to be a highlight of being there," Barnett said. "Indiana has hit a rough patch, but now I have a chance to be a part of a team that brings the program back during the next four years, gets all the falls back on board, and hopefully makes a run at a title."
Like everyone else on the roster, Barnett will get a chance to be a part of turning things around right away. While playing time isn't common place for walk-ons during their freshman years, a shortage of scholarship players for 2008-09 means that players such as Barnett, Carmel's Daniel Moore and West Lafayette's Broderick Lewis will get a chance to help right away.
The 6-5, 200-pound Barnett knows that he won't be called on to be a primary offensive weapon, but he's hoping to do what he's done throughout his prep career – do his part.
"My entire career I've been a role player," said Barnett, who averaged 11.7 points and 4.3 assists as a senior at Rochester (Ind.) H.S. "People have wondered why I didn't score more, but I didn't have to. I've been a lockdown defensive player, someone who gets rebounds and assists. And from what I've seen over the years, that's what Indiana basketball is all about – those hustle plays.
"Maybe I won't get my name in the paper, but I never have. I'm looking forward to being a part of the team and making an impact in any way I can."
While Barnett has yet to play in a college game, and he doesn't know how big of an impact he'll make. But one thing he does know if that he has aspirations in the game after his IU days are done. He's not thinking about a professional career on the court, but rather on the sidelines as a coach.
He said that became clear during his junior season when he was able to spend a fair amount of time around Alford during his final season at Iowa. He talked with the former IU standout about the profession to get his take on what it's like, and is convinced that's path he wants to take.
"From a coaching standpoint, (Alford) made sure I knew how hard it is with a family, how tough it is to recruit," Barnett said. "He said he could see things in me that would make me a good recruiter, and think I had all the attributes to do it."
Barnett has also talked with Crean about his long-term goals, and his new coach also talked about the challenges of recruiting and the demand on time. But like Alford, Crean told Barnett he also saw things in his personality that suggested he could be a success in the profession.
For now, coaching remains in Barnett's future, while helping turnaround the Hoosiers' program is in the present. But Barnett knows that accomplishing the latter could go a long way toward helping him achieve success in the former.
"I've been excited about the idea of being a coach, and with Coach Crean, it seems this could be even better fit for me (than the previous coaching staff) with how the program will be run," Barnett said. "By the time I come out in four or six years, hopefully we'll make a run and that would make it even easier to become a coach."
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