Bryant star brings basketball talent to college – and beyond

Former Bryant High School basketball star Johnny Barnes has carried over his defensive talents onto the collegiate court.

Now playing for Angelo State University (ASU) in Texas, Barnes earned Defensive Player of the Week honors for the Lone Star Conference South Division. Barnes’ 18 rebounds in the first game of the season broke a school record for the new arena and showcased the young athlete’s skills.

The 21-year-old Woodside native relishes the time he spent mastering his basketball skills at Bryant in Long Island City.

“It was a great experience for me because I was coached by a great leader and I had a bunch of close friends with me on the team,” said the 6’ 6”, 230-pound forward.

Averaging 21 points and 13 rebounds a game, Barnes was a first-team all-Queens inductee and at one time was the number six rated high school player in the city.

“Johnny is a really talented kid,” said his former basketball coach, John Demas. “He would always play hard for me and I would never have to ask him twice to do anything.”

At ASU, Barnes is leading the team in rebounding and blocks. The Rams won their first three games, but lost back-to-back matches in New Mexico. Despite their last defeat, Barnes recorded his career high in scoring, with 22 points in that game.

A senior, Barnes will write the last page in his collegiate basketball career this year. He has already made a tremendous impact on the coaching staff, along with the entire student body.

“We love having Johnny here … everyone on campus loves him,” said ASU head coach, Fred Rike. “He’s one of the most enthusiastic players I’ve ever taught.”

Barnes wasn’t handed a starting role at ASU. Rike explained that he came into college a little under-conditioned, but earned a starting role soon enough and has become a real leader on the court.

The humble athlete is overjoyed by the Defensive Player of the Week honors, but insists that it is all due to his teammates.

“Being Defensive Player of the Week really reflects on our team,” said Barnes, who has been playing basketball since he was 10. “We are all good individually, but our team chemistry is where the defense really happens.”

Barnes looks to hit the international basketball scene after he graduates.