Monday, August 6, 2012

Breakout AAU Season Leads to Offers for Barr

Matt Barr (Exeter, NH) was one of this summer's breakout players on the AAU circuit. The 6-foot-1 guard worked hard to elevate his game, and got exposure by playing with MB Nation. And as a result he now holds scholarship offers from Assumption and Bentley, who are both Division II schools in the Northeast-10 Conference.

"This summer has been great" Barr told the NH Notebook. "I really hadn't had any recruitment coming into it and I was on a new team so I wasn't sure what to expect. But right from the the start I liked MB Nation, the whole team is filled with unselfish, hard working people which is great to play with. Woody does a great job of getting the most out of us and the dribble drive style was perfect for me."

The MB Nation team that Barr was playing on was a squad made up of mostly kids from Maine, with Barr being only one from NH. There were 6 sophomores and 1 freshman on the team but they usually played up in the 17U bracket at their tournaments. This allowed them to play against tougher competition and gain more exposure.

"When Matt first showed up for tryouts we nicknamed him Sunshine, because he looked like the kid from Remember the Titans" said Mike 'Woody' Woodbury, the Director of MB Nation. "He was a kid who had to get used to our system. Plus we were always playing up an age group, and Matt was also forced to play the 1 with the injury to Dustin Cole later in the July live period. But he put in the work and with these offers it has started to pay off."

Barr ended the 2011-2012 high school basketball season on a tear, with back-to-back 30 point games against Dover and Trinity. Then he announced that he would be leaving Exeter High, transferring to Cushing Academy and reclassifying to the Class of 2014.

"I think I improved a lot over the summer in almost every part of my game" said Barr. "My handle has become a lot stronger and I'm playing a lot smarter."

It was on the AAU circuit with MB Nation when things really started to take off for Barr, though.

"We started to win games against good teams and Coach Woody and I were trying to get my name out there" Barr continued. "Getting my first scholarship from Assumption felt great and was nice to see the hard work starting to pay off. And then Bentley offering me about a week after just added to the excitement."

Barr and his MB Nation teammates have had a lot of success in this summer, but there's one tournament in particular where they really made some noise. That was the Basketball Hall of Fame National Invitational, when they made it to the finals before falling to the Middlesex Magic by just 1 point.

"The way Matt played in Springfield really said a lot about what kind of a player he was" said Coach Woodbury. "We played up in the 17U division, beat some Nike Sponsored teams and made it to the finals which was big for us and our kids getting noticed. After that tournament Matt and Dustin Cole both got full scholarship offers from Assumption and Bentley followed after that. Both schools began following us around during the live period in April and they have been interested in Matt ever since."

They took that momentum from Springfield and carried it on to the rest of the tournament schedule, which included a trip to the AAU Nationals in Orlando. With each tournament, Barr's recruitment picked up more and more. The sharpshooter continued to hear from Assumption and Bentley, among others.

"I have a lot of interest in both those schools" explained Barr. "Besides that I have had interest from NESCAC schools like Wesleyan, Bates and others. I have had interest from other D2 schools like Saint A's, Saint Mike's, and couple schools in Florida like Eckerd, Rollins College and Florida Southern. And then I'm visiting Columbia University soon and have also talked to Cornell."

Barr definitely has more options now than he did at the beginning of the summer. That is due to his hard work and the exposure he's gotten with MB Nation.

"Bentley and Assumption are great schools for academics and basketball" said Woodbury. Bentley runs a 4 out 1 in offense just like we do so it would be a good fit for him. Ultimately though Matt has the potential to play Division I college basketball, like in the Patriot League or Ivy League."

The bottom line is that teams at the next level are always going to need kids who can shoot the basketball. And there are very few players in New England who can shoot it like Matt Barr. He has great form, a quick release and can hit shots from all over the floor either off the catch or off the dribble.

You can count on Barr's success on the AAU circuit carrying over to the prep school season this winter, as Cushing is expected to once again be one of the top teams in New England. With Barr, Kaleb Joseph, Andrew Chrabascz and Idris Taqqee it is tough to imagine many teams beating them.

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