Who to watch for: Cherokee Trails Ronnie Barfield
Chauncey Billups Elite 16's Coach Ronnie DeGray, also the CEO of the AAU program and the Head Coach at Valor Christian High School, knows a good ballplayer when he sees one. DeGray played with Chauncey Billups at Colorado before playing professionally in Europe from 1998-2006.
One of DeGray's good ballplayers right now is 2016 SG Ronnie Barfield, a stalwart in his club team lineup since sixth grade.
"He brings an overall toughness on both ends of the floor," DeGray said of Barfield. "He is a matchup nightmare for opposing teams because he can play multiple positions and just doesn't get tired. The only thing he needs to work on is knocking down his three-point shot consistently."
"What I really want to improve on right now is my jump shot," Barfield added. "I feel like, really in college, that's what's going to help me."
"If he can do that, he's going to be a high Division 1 ballplayer, because he can just play multiple positions," DeGray said. "His basketball IQ is so high that it will allow him to play at a high level."
Barfield, a 6'2, 175 pound shooting guard who attends Cherokee Trail High School in Aurora (CO), helped lead his AAU squad to a co-championship in the prestigious Jayhawk Invite in late April in the 16U Division.
DeGray recapped the team's run all the way to the title.
Billups Elite faced adversity when their ultra-talented big man, Dallas Walton, tore his ACL in the first game, but survived. They were down at halftime for the first time in a while in the second game, but rallied for the victory.
Then, Billups shot the lights out in game three to handle an opponent, but found themselves down 22-1 to open the semifinal round against GrassRoots Indiana. GrassRoots is one of the premier AAU programs in the country, but Billups went on an 18-4 run in the second half to close the gap.
Barfield drained a game-winning jumper to win by two points. Because of the NCAA rules against having more than six games in one weekend during a live period, Billups was unable to face KC Run GMC in the title game.
DeGray couldn't have been happier with the way his team played in the high-level tournament though.
"It was good for the state of Colorado, because I always believe Colorado is one of the states slept on as far as basketball players," DeGray said. "You have a team from Colorado that does well, it's good for the whole state."
"Barfield played out of this world," DeGray said of his versatile talent in the tourney. "He was going from guarding the other team's best player, having to shut down their 2's, 3's, 4's position player and then going down at the other end and scoring. Barfield averaged a double-double for the whole tournament, 12 points and 10 rebounds. He took over the slack with us losing the big center, Dallas, and just put the team on his back. He did the little things for us."
Barfield certainly has impressive physical tools. He is very athletic with leaping ability and already has a strong, muscular body. Barfield is a good slasher to the basket and can finish creatively and above the rim. He has a solid mid-range jumper and is proud of his growing playmaking skills.
"My strengths would have to be getting to the basket and finding the open man on offense," Barfield said. "I really like getting my teammates involved, because it makes the flow of the game better."
Barfield is a high energy player, as well.
"My style of play is to play hard no matter what, no matter who we're going against, just put 110 percent into everything," Barfield said.
Barfield's talent and effort is starting to pay off on the recruiting trail with interest from Denver, Colorado, and Stanford. He has yet to hear from Colorado State, but said he would be very interested in the Rams, if they recruited him.
Barfield is a gifted 2016 prospect, but he and his coach agree that he needs to continue developing his perimeter jumper.
"What's going to dictate how high he plays is his jump shot," DeGray said. "He has the mid-range right now."
Barfield, who is expected to grow to 6'3 or 6'4, hopes to knock down the three with more consistency, but he is already an intriguing talent. His ability to impact games at both ends of the court, guard players of numerous positions, and slash and create has made him one of the preeminent prospects in the 2016 Colorado hoops class.