By Evan Wheaton
Walking into the locker room underneath Blake Arena, Scottie Barnes is in good spirits.
His third trip to the Spalding Hoophall Classic was a reminder that he’s on the right path.
He sits down on the bench in front of red lockers, content with his efforts moments ago.
Finishing 6-12 from the field and 4-4 at the foul line for 16 points, along with five rebounds and five assists in the 76-64 victory over IMG Academy, Barnes was in his element.
“I don’t think I won here so far, this is my first win here I think. It was good to get a win here in this good environment,” Barnes said. “The crowd was pretty hyped.”
On his third trip to Alden Street, he came with his third varsity team. Having previously attended Cardinal Newman and NSU University School, something drew Barnes to Montverde.
What many scouts see is his impressive reach as he boasts a 7-foot-1-inch wingspan, often able to create crucial turnovers and wreak havoc on the defensive end.
They also see his strength and physicality, his playmaking ability. But what they might not see is how his personal experiences have influenced his game.
The 6-foot-8-inch forward has been on quite a few teams by now, with Montverde being his most recent as he transferred in for his senior year.
He sees the academy as a pipeline to ignite his basketball career. Transferring the second time around, he knew he landed in the right place.
“They (Montverde) really do up their players,” Barnes said. “They have NBA prospects that went through their school, so I knew it would be the right move for me no matter what.”
With just one season as a member of the Eagles, Barnes has integrated well. As the No. 11 ranked recruit in the country, his versatility may be the most substantial takeaway from his travels.
“With me, I think I can develop and fit into any system. I’ve played different positions and different systems,” Barnes said. “On the travel circuit I played point guard mostly. At USA I played the four. I feel like when I came here, it’s going to be mostly like USA, so I can fit into the system.”
Despite already having prior experience with switching high schools, Barnes still experienced a difficult transition.
And it came off the court.
It’s organic for Barnes to find his place on different basketball teams and buy into a multitude of systems. It’s not so easy when thrown into new living environments – saying goodbyes, learning his way around new schools, and in Montverde’s case, life on campus.
“It was pretty hard to adjust. It’s a boarding school, so I live at the school. The dorms are pretty small, that’s something big for me, so I had to really adjust to that,” Barnes said. “The school is full of really strict rules and things like that, so it was really hard. I just had to get used to it.”
Throughout Barnes’ high school journey, he’s had a plethora of experiences in all shapes and sizes. The three-time FIBA gold medalist and two-time state champion has amassed a resume overflowing with awards and honors.
Being named to the 2019 All-USA Today Florida Boys Basketball first team, 2018 MaxPreps Sophomore All-America first team, 2017 Palm Beach Post All-Area Small Schools second team, and 2017 All-North Division Conference second team, Barnes attributes his travels as the biggest factor.
Being exposed to new environments and having the ability to adapt and fit in perfectly time and time again has been the highlight of his high school journey.
“My past two schools, my first and second year at the university school and now here, we both played at big stages, big moments, big games,” Barnes said. “It’s been fun traveling and playing in these big tournaments.”
And he hasn’t stopped.
Barnes has kept up the pace as recently as attending the 2019 USA Basketball Men’s Junior National Team October minicamp prior to his stint with Montverde.
Barnes will look to keep that trend going heading into college.
After committing to Florida State on Oct. 14 of last year, he’s been enthusiastic about the way head coach Leonard Hamilton manages his players.
This was the biggest factor in Barnes’ decision.
“I feel like Leonard Hamilton, he’s been a great hand (in my decision) because he’s one of the most underrated coaches in college basketball,” Barnes said. “He really defends, he gets the most out of his players, and that team is so connected as a group.”
When it comes to picking schools, Barnes has enough experience. He’s confident in his next destination after his final season of high school varsity.
“Look what he’s (Hamilton) doing to his team right now, they’re about to be top-five in the rankings. I know it’s going to be great,” he said.
Once Barnes enters his freshman year of college, he’ll find plenty of opportunity to keep traveling to different areas to compete.
Across the many environments Barnes continues to experience during his high school journey, they all have a common denominator.
“They help me develop my game.”
Photos Courtesy of Gabby Guerard