2018-19 BCR Boys Basketball Player of the Year
MANLIUS — Some basketball players can lead on paper, some can lead on the court, some can lead in the locker room.
Very few can do all three, especially with the same intensity as the Bureau Valley Storm’s Kale Barnett, the 2018-19 BCR Boys Basketball Player of the Year.
“I’m glad Kale is getting this well-deserved recognition,” Storm coach Jason Marquis said. “I think we’ve watched one of the best of all time at BV over the past four years. It’s been quiet, at times, because Kale isn’t going to break his arm patting himself on the back.
“He’s not hoarse from singing his own praises on Twitter either. But if you look statistically, he’s been a monster for the past four years, in the top ten of all our major categories.”
Indeed, Barnett will leave BV fourth in points (1,399), first in assists (366), eighth in rebounds (477), and third in steals (245).
He joins former Storm player Preston Jones (2005) as one of only two players in the Bureau Valley basketball program’s 24 years to lead his team in every statistical category.
“Most importantly,” Marquis said. “His teams have a couple of regional plaques, a sectional plaque, and a lot of fantastic friendships and stories to go along with that hardware.”
Barnett’s story goes back several years to his first organized play at the Bureau County Metro Center with his friend and Storm teammate, Tyler Gustafson.
Eventually joining them was his twin sister, Saige, who would become a standout for BV in her own right.
“Later, in fifth-grade, we got into doing just tournaments in the winter,” Barnett said. “It was all over. We had some in Rochelle, Princeton, Sherrard, places like that.”
Barnett admits that some skills took longer to learn than others.
“I think keeping your composure is huge,” he said. “I’d leave my temper on the court all the time, but over the years I gained the composure and poise that you need.”
“Getting to coach Kale for four years has been especially rewarding when considering his strides as a young adult,” Marquis said. “He is an emotional young man, with a lot of fire. At times, as an underclassman, it was very difficult for him to channel those emotions and utilize those emotions for his benefit.”
One memory out of many stands out for Marquis in the development of his point guard.
“I still remember watching him at Illinois Team Camp before his junior year, and there was a loose ball, and Kale bent down to pick that ball up, and two or three kids from the other team literally bounced off of Kale. And I thought, ‘Oh my goodness, he’s the strongest kid on the floor. Look out,’ “ Marquis said.
“Anybody watching the game could see his challenge to control his emotion at that young age. This sounds crazy, but those experiences made watching Kale handle our team’s challenges and struggles throughout this year incredibly rewarding as a coach.”
This year, as a senior, started with a question mark for Barnett.
A broken arm over the summer kept him off of the football field until Week 4 of the 2018 Storm campaign, but he quickly made up for lost time as a valuable contributor on both sides of the ball.
Once basketball season rolled around again, Barnett helped lead the Storm to a 21-11 record, along the way averaging 17.4 points, 5.5 rebounds, 4.0 assists, and 3.0 steals per game.
“For a kid who missed the better part of five months, leading into his senior season, with a serious injury, it’s been impressive to watch him get back into his groove,” Marquis said,
The Storm would go on to repeat as regional champs, followed by BV’s first sectional title and Elite Eight appearance in 17 years.
The excitement, however, came to a halt with a loss to Chicago Corliss in the 2A DeKalb Super-Sectional.
“Initially I was upset about it,” Barnett said. “One game away from state, we wanted that, but you can’t ask for much more than progressing from last year. We were down plenty of times in the season and came back.
“After being 0-2 to Newman in the regular season, we knew we’d have to play our best basketball for the sectional and we did, came out on top.”
Barnett still has track season ahead before he ends his time as a Bureau Valley athlete, with an eye on attending ISU in the fall.
He is undecided on his major, and his plans for participating in sports for college are up in the air as well.
“If I do anything, it will probably be football,” Barnett said.
Whatever he decides, his basketball coach knows he is prepared to succeed.
“It bring me tremendous pride, recognizing that Kale has matured into a fine young man,” Marquis said. “I’m certain with his work ethic, his leadership, and his awareness, he will become a linchpin in his workplace, his community and most importantly, in his home, for years to come.”
The Kale Barnett File:
• BCR Player of the Year
• Unanimous TRAC East All-Conference
• Third Team IBCA All-State
• Honorable Mention AP All-State
• Led team in scoring (17.4), rebounds (5.5), assists (4.0), steals (3.0)
• All-time school leader in assists (366), third in steals (245), fourth in scoring (1,399)