|Eyeing the prize|
Kyle Barone has finished his career at the University of Idaho, but his future may hold even great opportunity. Last week, Barone received an invitation to compete in the Portsmouth Invitational Tournament at Portsmouth, Va. The tournament will give Barone the chance to showcase his talents in front of NBA teams, International teams and sports agents.
“It’s a great accomplishment and it shows that someone noticed my career and this year especially,” Barone said. “To be recognized and be invited to something like that is special. Only a handful of people get to go to it every year and I'm privileged to be invited and I’m going to make the best of my opportunity. This is just the first stepping stone for my career after college and I'm excited about it.”
Barone wrapped up his Idaho career as the best post player in school history by ranking No. 1 in games played (126), No. 2 in career rebounds (869), No. 3 in career field goal percentage (.585) and No. 4 in career scoring (1,433). Barone also was honored as the WAC Player of the Year this year.
“This year I stepped up and became the player I saw myself as,” Barone said. “I put a lot of effort into it offseason-wise to get ready for this year and I guess the hard work just paid off for me.”
Earning an invitation to play in the Portsmouth tournament is no easy task. The tournament takes the top 64 seniors in the nation, breaks them up into teams and then the teams play each other so the players can showcase their talents to NBA and international teams. NBA greats such as John Stockton, Scottie Pippen and Tim Hardaway all have come to this tournament after their senior season.
“What really helped Kyle get in was he had a great year, he was player of the year and he’s more than deserving,” Idaho coach Don Verlin said. “They really look at your body of work over four years because it’s only seniors who play.”
Barone also earned another national honor when he was ranked No. 14 in the country in efficiency by the Hollinger NCAA Division I Basketball Efficiency rankings last week.
“Being ranked 14th in efficiency is very important and it’s another great accomplishment,” Barone said. “It reflects what I can do on the court and how well I can do it. That’s important for me moving forward and other people noticing that as well. It shows working hard pays off. It’s a great accomplishment.”
For Barone, playing in the NBA has been a dream of his since he started playing at a young age with his older brother Ryan.
“We had a basketball hoop in our driveway and that’s where it all started,” Barone said. “Having an older brother helped me because when he had games I would go and watch. He helped me get a head start on it because I was always playing with him and older people. It started from a young age and I knew what I wanted to be.”
Numbers alone won’t land you a job in the NBA but Verlin believes that Barone is ready for the tournament and can impress some people.
“They all can read the program and read your stats,” Verlin said. “Now it’s their chance to watch you against the best seniors in the country. It’s a real honor and challenge and I know he’s looking forward to it.
“He knows how to work and we’ve trained him well in the fundamentals of basketball. Now it’s time for him to go play and show himself. He has a great resume up to this point. He studied and prepared, now it’s time to take the test.”
Barone receiving an invitation to play in this tournament means more than just a chance for him to get a job, it also means a lot to the Idaho basketball program.
“He was able to mature and develop and really grow up as a person and that’s a key thing,” Verlin said. “He graduated in four years and worked his tail off on the court. Everything is done and now it’s time for him to go and earn himself a job.”