By Krandall Brantley
The 17-year-old guard was the Gatorade State Boys Basketball Player of the Year in 2015 and has never experienced a state tournament loss, winning back-to-back state championships his first two years in high school.
He hopes No. 3 is next.
The 6-foot-2, 165-pound junior doesn’t strike fear based off his size and strength, unlike former teammate Marvin Bagley III, but Corona fans agree that he can put on a show.
He’s explosive enough to dunk on fast breaks and score driving to the rim against taller defenders, but what makes his game special is his ability to score in a variety of ways, including pull-up jumpers in transition, knocking down three-pointers, dazzling ball handling skills and tremendous court vision.
“When I was younger I walked into gyms and everyone didn’t think I could ball and then once the game was over they came back to me and respected me after that,” Barcello said.
Unlike his early AAU days, players and coaches know Barcello’s name but it hasn’t altered his motivation on the floor.
His drive for spending hours in the gym everyday isn’t about recognition. It’s not about choosing a college on National Signing Day or envisioning himself playing on ESPN. Barcello’s drive comes from having a genuine love for the game of basketball.
It wasn’t just his first love. It’s the only sport he’s loved and the only sports he’s ever played.
His favorite player growing up was Chicago Bulls legend Michael Jordan and his favorite movie was the Warner Brothers classic “Space Jam,” starring Jordan.
Stephen Curry is his favorite NBA player and he enjoys watching film on both. He uses the film to incorporate their basketball instincts into his own game, but Curry’s faith in God impresses Barcello the most.
“I love Jordan’s heart to win the game no matter what…” Barcello said. “Steph Curry, I love how he puts God first and it looks like he has the ball on a string dribbling on the court.”
Barcello credits his father, Edward, for introducing him to basketball and being his trainer since he was a child, but he and Corona del Sol coach Neil MacDonald also complimented his parents for teaching him how to stay grounded throughout his accomplishments.
“He’s a humble kid that doesn’t allow success to change his demeanor too often,” MacDonald said. “Obviously, he’s a high-profile player that’s got a lot of eyes on him and yet he handles himself well and that comes from being raised right.”
“They always told me to put God first, then family, then friends, then school, then sports so I always remain humble because at any given moment the talent can be taken away from me,” Barcello said.