The stars appeared to align for Antonio Barton to return to his native Maryland, where a one-year rental deal with the Terrapins men’s basketball team awaited. Instead, the former Memphis point guard chose to finish his college career in the Volunteer State, committing to the University of Tennessee early Sunday afternoon.
The announcement was made on Twitter by Barton’s brother, Will, a rookie for the Portland Trail Blazers and Antonio’s former teammate with the Tigers.
My bro Antonio Barton has decided to attend the university of Tennessee for his senior year where he will be allowed to play right away
— Will Barton (@WillTheThrillB5) May 26, 2013
Barton was reportedly deciding between Maryland, Tennessee, Kansas State and Texas A&M. He visited College Park in mid-May and met with Athletic Director Kevin Anderson and Coach Mark Turgeon. The Baltimore Sun, citing text messages, reported the visit went “tremendous.”
Per NCAA graduate transfer rules, he will be immediately eligible for the Volunteers, who were bounced from the first round of the 2013 National Invitation Tournament by Mercer this March. According to Will Barton, Antonio will graduate this summer, and will give Tennessee an experienced replacement for Trae Golden. Barton has played in three straight NCAA tournament games.
A 6-foot-2 point guard from Baltimore whose 4-year-old daughter lives there with his mother, Barton saw his minutes decline over three seasons with the Tigers. Last season he averaging just 16.7 minutes and 5.6 points per game.
He would have shored up an otherwise young and inexperienced point guard position for the Terps, who entered the offseason with rising sophomore Seth Allen and incoming freshman Roddy Peters as their top two options. With Pe’Shon Howard transferring home to the Southern California area, Maryland has no scholarship seniors on its roster and just one senior — John Auslander — of any kind.
Expect Maryland to hit the ground running with other transfer options in the next few days, especially since an NCAA-mandated dead period just ended Saturday. According to an individual with knowledge of the situation, however, the Terps had been holding back on recruiting other transfers while Barton made his decision, simply out of respect to him.