Some 10 years ago, Barry L. Wilburn, Jr. picked up a basketball and went headed for the backyard.
He began to dribble.
He began to shoot.
He dribbled some more.
He shot some more.
Little did he know that even at the tender age of five, someone very dear to him was looking on the entire time, was watching virtually his every move as he dribbled and shot and dribbled and shot some more.
That person was non-other-than Barry Wilburn, Sr.
Just like yesterday, Wilburn, Sr. recalls how he watched in wonderment how his son had managed to adopt a passion for basketball, a trend that has ultimately given way to his finding his niche today on the competitive circuit.
“I really noticed his unselfishness and natural leadership abilities,” Wilburn, Sr. told Sports Journalist Andre Johnson during a recent interview.
To his credit, Wilburn, Jr.’s ability to lead and thrive, coupled with his a significant upgrade of his overall mechanics, has greatly given way to his blossoming as a catalyst for Kipp Delta Collegiate School in Helena, Arkansas.
A 5-foot-8 freshman guard who still has much growing to do, Wilburn, Jr. turned in valiant contribution this past season for a Kipp Delta team that finished just one game shy of the .500 mark with a 14-15 mark, highlighted by an 11-7 record in league play.
“I truly believe that he has a true love of the game and wants to succeed at it,” said Wilburn, Sr., assessing his son’s overall play as a true freshman. “He also has a very high basketball I.Q., which is shown by his play as a point guard.”
Wilburn, Jr., meanwhile, relishes the fact that his off-the-court resilience paid off mightily in his first full season of major prep basketball.
Kipp Delta captured a league championship, in large part because of Wilburn, Jr.’s stellar offensive display in which he led the team in scoring and assists.
So much for first-year jitters.
“Barry is true point guard,” Kipp Delta coach Phillip Lockhart said. “This (past) season, he not only led the team in scoring, but he also averaged 13 assists a contest. Barry also has a 3.4 GPA. His leadership skills on and off the court are superior to most athletes his age.”
Luckily for newcomer, he undoubtedly held his own, something he hopes is a sign is a sign of things to come.
“I love the game and I’m willing to work hard to make my team better,” Wilburn, Jr. said. “I work out daily, from shoot-around, scrimmages and physical strengthening.”
As for his greatest strengths, Wilburn, Jr. said, “Ball-handling is my strongest point or strength and I would say rebounding is somewhat of a weakness.”
Fortunately for the young Wilburn, Jr., he’ll be afforded the golden opportunity to brush up on his fundamentals this summer while on the AAU circuit.
Most importantly, he knows full well that will also present him with the chance to draw attention from scouts.
“The college level is still three years away for me,” Wilburn, Jr. said. “But I will continue to study the game and play competitively as often as I can.”
Something about which he’s been doing, really, since the tender age of five.
With his father looking on in amazement.
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Andre Johnson is a senior writer for MemphiSport. A 2000 graduate of the University of Memphis School of Journalism, Johnson covers the NBA Southwest Division from Dallas, Texas. To reach Johnson, send an email to email@example.com. Also, follow him on Twitter @AJ_Journalist.