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LAS VEGAS, Nev. — The proof of Alex Barcello’s value shows in his highly successful results of his young basketball career.
He was the starting point guard and leading scorer for Tempe Corona del Sol last season, engineering the Aztecs to their fourth consecutive state title. The team includes high-profile post player prospect Marvin Bagley, the top-rated player at his position in the Class of 2018.
Barcello is a proven leader, out of the same mold as T.J. McConnell. He puts his 6’3″ and 165-pound body everywhere. In the games at Cashman Center here for Team Bayless, Barcello was all over the place. His gas tank has no empty barometer.
He also talks confidently like McConnell.
“I always want to out-defend the other guy,” Barcello told me. “I don’t want him to score on me. I take it personally. I want to do my best against the guy I am guarding. I don’t want to let him score.
“I want to set the tempo for my team, so if I’m playing good defense, everybody around me is playing good defense. … When I’m going, I’m going 100 percent, I’m giving it my all. I just want to leave it all on the floor.”
He does just that, including blood dripping to the floor, that was captured by this Team Bayless tweet:
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Corona del Sol sophomore Alex Barcello wins Arizona Gatorade Player of the Year. Has taken two unofficial visits to Arizona this semester.
Barcello is on Team Bayless because of his respect for former Phoenix high school phenom Jerryd Bayless, the former Arizona guard who finished his seventh NBA season this year. Barcello credits the advice given by Bayless, who is here in Las Vegas to observe his AAU operation, and former NBA players for helping his game to mature at such a young age.
Barcello was invited to the NBPA Top 100 Camp last month in Charlottesville, Va., where he was mentored by different players who have reached the NBA, his ultimate goal.
“I have learned a lot this summer,” Barcello said about his experiences with Bayless and the NBPA Top 100 Camp. “They have taught me a lot like how to make myself and my teammates better around me and just my overall game, getting open, taking my shot quicker.”
Barcello has worked on his release, which has a textbook form and good accuracy. In one sequence here, he dribbled from side to side to escape a defender, jumped high with a release point over the defender and nailed a three-pointer.
Bayless’ guidance and presence around Barcello will not impact the guard’s college decision. Barcello reiterated to me that his recruitment is wide open.
When I asked him about where he currently stands, Barcello said, “Do you want me to tell you my offers? I forget off the top of my head.” He reached into his gym bag for his cell phone and scrolled to his notes where he lists schools that have offered him a full ride.
“I have offers from Arizona, Arizona State, Colorado, Creighton, DePaul, Grand Canyon, Memphis, New Mexico, Oregon, Providence, St. Mary’s, USC, Utah, Virginia, Wake Forest and Washington State,” Barcello said. “My ‘interests’ right now are Notre Dame, Stanford, Gonzaga and Auburn.”
New Arizona assistant coach Mark Phelps along with head coach Sean Miller have recruited Barcello the most. Earlier this year during the season, Barcello took two unofficial visits to the Arizona campus to watch games.
He has grown up in Arizona, so he knows of the marketing value of playing for a Top 10 program.
“It’s a great facility,” Barcello said of McKale Center. “They have a packed house when they play games. I’ve been to a couple of games. I’ve watched them. It’s a great environment to play in.
“Coach Miller does a great job with them. He knows how to get them into the pros if they want to make it there. He knows how to make everyone better. … It’s definitely a great environment to be around.”
Living only a few miles from ASU’s campus, Barcello also values the idea of staying closer to home and helping new coach Bobby Hurley to generate a winning program.
“He is trying to build up that program, and I feel that he’s going to do a great job over there,” Barcello said. “He’s talked to me. I think I’m supposed to head down there after this (Adidas Uprising tournament in Las Vegas) is over for an unofficial visit.”
Barcello has more than a year to make up his mind by the early signing period of November 2016. It appears as if he will take a while to assess all of the programs before making a decision.
“I’m just looking at my options, and I think I’ll know when it’s right,” he said. “That’s what people tell me. They say that they wake up one day and they know that it’s the school for them.
“Right now, I’m looking for that benefit. Obviously I want to make it pro, that’s my dream. I want to play in the NBA. I’m looking at what can help me improve the most and get me to that ultimate goal.”