Jordan Barnes Leads STL Revival in MVC
(St. Louis, MO) – Jordan Barnes is the leader of a hostile take-over. Indiana State’s leading scorer is one of many St. Louis area players that are shining on the Missouri Valley Conference stage.
Barnes has exploded on to the Valley scene as coach Greg Lansing has handed the car keys to the Sycamore offense to the 5’11 sophomore from Christian Brothers College High School. His career high 27-point performance against previously undefeated Drake (10-8, 4-1) boosted him to third in the Valley scoring race (17.1 points per game). He’s tied for fourth in assists, averaging 4.1 per game, sixth in free-throw percentage (.804) and leads the Valley in 3-pointers (3.9 per game) and Barnes logs the second most minutes in the league.
Sycamore head coach Greg Lansing says he should have given Barnes who was named to the Valley’s ‘All Freshmen Team’, more playing time last year and that he is thriving with more playing time and more responsibility.
Barnes played in the same high school conference (Metro Catholic Conference) that has sent Bradley Beal, Jayson Tatum and Patrick McCaw to the NBA, Tyler Cook to Iowa and Ryan Stipanovich to Bradley. Tatum, Cook, Stipanovich and Barnes battled one another for years.
Prior to the season I asked the prep state champion what he learned during his freshman season and how he hoped to improve.
What about other St. Louis area players in the Valley?
Barnes’ teammate Emondre Rickman leads the Sycamores in blocked shots and averages 4.2 points and 4.2 rebounds per game. The 6’9 junior is from nearby Collinsville, Illinois where he played in the Southwest Conference against Southern Illinois’ leading scorer Armon Fletcher.
Part of last season’s ‘Most Improved Team’ Fletcher is averaging 13.9 points (9th) and 5.4 rebounds per game. Head coach Barry Hinson has said repeatedly that Fletcher can be as good as he wants to be.
Fletcher’s teammate Aaron Cook has emerged as a solid floor general and a reliable scorer. The Mary-Institute Country Day (MICDS) grad leads the Salukis in assists and is averaging 9.5 points per game. Barry Hinson says he’s always believed that Cook could emerge as an upper level MVC player.
Another Southwest Conference alum is Drake’s De’Antae McMurray. He is the Bulldogs second leading scorer at 11.8 points per game and the former Alton Redbird is eighth in the Valley in assists (3.0 per game). His teammate, C.J. Rivers played at a metro east high school (Cahokia High) and the 6’2 senior leads the Bulldogs in rebounding (5.4) and assists (3.2). His all-round game is a boost to first place Drake.
Head coach Niko Medved says Rivers has taken well to the challenge of playing a big man’s position in a small man’s body.
Bradley is very high on their 6’7 St. Louis freshman Stipanovich. The former De Smet Spartan was a year behind Tatum, Barnes and Cook (Tyler) in the powerful MCC, but as a junior ‘Stipo’ was sixth in the league in scoring behind Tatum, Barnes, UMKC’s Brandon McKissic and in front of Cook.
Stipanovich has made 50% of his shots from long distance (8 of 16) and every one of his free-throws (12 for 12) in his limited playing time. He’s averaging 2.9 points per game.
Evansville freshman Noah Frederking (Okawville, IL) has started eight games for the injury riddled Purple Aces. The 6’4 guard is averaging over five points per game and is making over 41% of his three-point shots.
Southern Illinois’ Brendon Gooch has had an injury riddled career. He’s played 13 games this season.