Standing atop the WAC’s food chain Brandon Barnes leads with confidence

Standing atop the  WAC’s food chain  Brandon Barnes leads  with confidence

By Nate Sanchez
Sports Editor

Abi Khan/The Runner Brandon Barnes, a senior, rushes to the other side of the court on Nov. 2.
Abi Khan/The Runner
Brandon Barnes, a senior, rushes to the other side of the court on Nov. 2.

To the media he is a first-team, All-Conference player. To CSUB men’s assistant coach Jeff Conarroe, he is “The Mayor.” To his fans and fellow students, the Oxford, Mississippi native answers to a different name: Brandon Barnes.

Barnes’ earliest recollection of the game was as a fourth grader scoring 36 of his team’s 38 points.

“My team wasn’t very good,but I thought I was pretty good for a fourth grader,” Barnes said.

Despite his early connection with the game, Barnes truly started to love basketball during his sophomore year of high school. Barnes and his family had just moved to Oklahoma from Mississippi and Barnes felt out of place.

“That was my hardest working year because I had something to prove,” Barnes said. “That was the first time I ever felt out of my comfort zone and I really fell in love with the game and hard work after that.”

You can easily say that Barnes has taken to basketball simply because he’s good at it. But taking a step back – away from the great numbers, away from the court – you’ll see that it’s in his blood.

CSUB men’s basketball Head Coach Rod Barnes is his father.

“It’s a great feeling to coach my son,” Coach Barnes said. “Not too many dads get a chance to be around their sons at this particular point in their lives and I’m excited to be able to watch him grow.”

From the Barnes family’s point-of-view, the close proximity is a handy advantage and an excellent avenue for constructive criticism when Barnes isn’t playing well. The only disadvantage Barnes sees comes from the outside.

“The biggest disadvantage to having my dad coach would be the outside world and what they think,” Barnes said. “People think I don’t work hard or I have a lot of things because of my father.”

Teammates and coaches can attest to the opposite. Conarroe praises Barnes for his veteran experience and work-first mentality.

“He’ll be a workhorse for us,” Conarroe said. “He’s respected as a player throughout the league and he’ll do whatever needs to be done to help the team win and we know he’s focusing on that.”

“We can count on Brandon to come in the game and play good defense,” teammate and redshirt junior guard Javonte Maynor said. “He’s an aggressive player and he brings a lot of physicality to the game.”

Despite Barnes’ aggressive work-first mentality, basketball is anything but an all-consuming aspect of his life. Barnes enjoys watching movies and playing video games. He’s also talkative and enjoys spending time with friends and family.

“He’s a funny guy,” Maynor said. “He’s a great guy and he comes from a great family.”

“Outside the lines he’s a different guy,” Coach Barnes said. “He’s a really considerate, sensitive guy but he brings a different demeanor to the court as a competitor.”

Abi Khan/The Runner  Brandon Barnes, a senior, rushes to the other side of the court on Nov. 2.
Abi Khan/The Runner
Brandon Barnes, a senior, dribbles down the court on Nov. 2.

“Brandon’s a good guy,” Conarroe added. “We call him ‘The Mayor.’ As fierce and competitive as he is on the court, he’s almost the opposite off the court.”

As a player, Barnes commands respect on the court. He was recently named to the All-WAC first-team roster by conference coaches and the media. Amidst the praise and expectations, Barnes finds that among all things, his faith is what keeps him grounded.

“No one is perfect, but I try to be more like Christ everyday,” Barnes said. “I try to use the game of basketball to glorify God.

“My ultimate goal is to impact as many people as I can for Christ. Hopefully the way that I live my life is a testimony or a help for someone to take a stand for Christ in their daily life.”

As one of three team captains, Barnes shoulders most of the responsibility for the team’s success. However, Barnes will be the first to say that he is a part of a team, working toward the Big Dance – the NCAA Tournament.

“My objective is to serve,” Barnes said. “I’ll do the dirty work; I’ll dive for loose balls, that’s my role.

“Our main goal is to put the city of Bakersfield on the map. I see us holding up a trophy at the WAC Tournament in Vegas and heading off to the NCAA tournament to go and make some noise there.”

Along with all his success on the court, Barnes’ aspirations extend beyond the game. The senior is scheduled to graduate this year with a degree in business management.

“I’m gonna try to play as long as I can, but I have a big dream of coaching just like my dad,” Barnes said. “I’ve been sending out résumés to become a graduate assistant to get into that field.” The ’Runner basketball team was ranked third in their first year in a major conference, but Barnes and company have much more to play for than first place. The WAC Tournament in Las Vegas is in sight, and Barnes looks to lead his teammates into conference play in hopes of winning it all.