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July 21, 2013

Former Auburn hoops star Korvotney Barber found dead after apparent drowning in Panama City Beach

BY RYAN BLACK | rblack@ledger-enquirer.com

@wareagleextra

Former Auburn basketball star Korvotney Barber was found dead from an apparent drowning on Sunday in Panama City Beach, Fla.

Auburn Basketball

The body of former Auburn basketball player Korvotney Barber was discovered Sunday evening after an apparent drowning off Panama City Beach, Fla. He played for the Tigers from 2005-09.

Cpl. Jason Gleason of the Panama City Beach (Fla.) Police Department confirmed Barber’s body was found between the Boardwalk Beach Condominiums and the nearby Top of the Gulf Condominiums by a passing civilian at 4:49 p.m. (ET), seconds after he washed ashore.

“We are deeply saddened to learn of the devastatingly tragic and untimely death of Korvotney Barber,” Auburn athletic director Jay Jacobs said in an official university release Sunday. “The Auburn Family remembers ‘Vot’ as a relentless competitor with the heart of a champion. More importantly, those who knew him best remember him as a caring father who deeply loved his children and his family. Korvotney’s family and friends will remain in our thoughts and prayers during this profoundly sad time.”

According to police, Barber went missing at approximately 7:09 p.m. Saturday after going into the water with his wife and another friend, despite the beach being under double red flag conditions. Double red flags are posted to signal that the beach is closed and the public is forbidden to enter the water due to strong rip tides.

Thirty minutes after he was first reported missing Saturday, a search party consisting of the U.S. Coast Guard, the Florida Wildlife Commission and the Bay County Sheriff’s Office helicopter set out to look for Barber. Gleason said the helicopter had to be grounded later due to inclement weather in the area.

The 26-year-old Manchester native starred at Manchester High School, earning numerous honors during his senior campaign in 2004-05, when he posted averages of 20 points, 16 rebounds and eight blocks per game. That season, he led Manchester to a 22-4 overall record and a Class AA Sweet 16 appearance en route to garnering the Gatorade Player of the Year for Georgia and being selected as a McDonald’s All-American. Barber was also a member of the Georgia Blazers, a Columbus-based AAU team.

At Auburn, Barber averaged 10.9 points and 7.2 rebounds during his four-year career under former coach Jeff Lebo. His senior season in 2008-09 nearly saw him average a double-double, tallying 12.8 points and 9.6 rebounds per game.

“The Auburn basketball program is deeply saddened to lose one its great players in Korvotney ‘Vot’ Barber,” Auburn coach Tony Barbee said in a statement. “I was fortunate enough to meet ‘Vot’ just last week when he stopped by my office to introduce himself to me. What an impressive guy. Our prayers are with his family and loved ones.”

Barber went overseas after graduating from Auburn, playing for the Lugano Tigers, a team based in Switzerland. The Tigers finished with a 16-9 overall record this past season, good enough for second in the Swiss League’s Division A, the more prestigious of the league’s two divisions. Barber was the team’s third-leading scorer at 13.2 points per game and tied for the team-high in rebounds, grabbing 7.4 per contest.

Barber’s final game came against the Geneve Lions on May 31, which happened to be the deciding contest of the Swiss League’s best-of-five championship series.

In that game, Barber scored 10 points and collected six rebounds.

March 14, 2013

Plenty of turnover in previous years, but Auburn hopes this group sticks together

Auburn vs Texas A&M

BY AARON BRENNER | abrenner@ledger-enquirer.com

@WarEagleExtra

NASHVILLE – The transfer giveth, the transfer taketh away.

Mostly, the war of addition versus attrition has been acrimonious to Auburn basketball in three years under head coach Tony Barbee.

The hardest hit was in May 2011, when top scorer Earnest Ross and Ty Armstrong decided after one year in the Barbee system to play elsewhere. Ross is one of six Missouri players averaging double-digit points, while Armstrong averaged 9.2 points on 56 percent shooting for East Carolina this year.

Andre Malone, belonging to that same Jeff Lebo 2009 signing class with Ross and Armstrong, transferred to Rhode Island. Malone was the Rams’ No. 2-leading scorer, helping Rhode Island knock off host Auburn 78-72 on Nov. 25.

Also, center Willy Kouassi and forward Bernard Morena transferred out of the program last March, ending up at Kennesaw State.

So there’s a certain sense of pride for Frankie Sullivan and Rob Chubb – admittedly disgusted with the travesty that was their senior season, a 9-23 effort ending in Wednesday’s SEC Tournament play-in defeat to Texas A&M, 71-62.

At least they stuck with it, when five former teammates didn’t.

“People are always looking for a grass-is-always-greener-on-the-other-side type of scenario,” Chubb said. “I’m not the type of person to just leave something I started unfinished. I wanted to get everything done that I started here at Auburn.

“I love Auburn, and just didn’t want to leave.”

On to next year. One of the first orders of business, somewhere between cleaning out lockers and grinding in the gym toward a 2013-14 renaissance, is keeping this group together.

Barbee remains optimistic going forward, encouraged by four freshmen who took their lumps they hope are masked as growing pains.

“With the guys we’ve got coming in,” Barbee said, “I couldn’t be more excited about the direction we’re headed.”

Nobody in the Tigers’ postgame locker room Wednesday seemed to doubt for a moment anybody was looking for a way out.

Auburn vs Texas A&M“Back then, there was conversation about people leaving,” said junior guard Chris Denson, referring to prior seasons. “But you never hear it with this group right here. Nobody’s leaving. Everybody’s going to be in the same spot they’re in right now.”

“I feel pretty good about the future,” said freshman shooting guard Jordan Price, who tied an SEC record with 11 consecutive threes but mysteriously misplaced his shot after that December hot streak. “A lot of the season was lessons for the future, so we know what not to do. We’re going to get back in the gym and get ready for next year.”

“I’m pretty sure this whole group will stick together,” said freshman point guard Brian Greene Jr., whose minutes yo-yoed all year long.

“We’ve got a brotherhood that can’t be broken.”

Simply-spoken Shaq Johnson, a swingman who started 21 games, was even more direct when asked if he or his 2012 classmates had entertained the thought of leaving.

“Oh no, no. I’m at Auburn. I’m here,” Johnson said. “I like Auburn, so I’m not going anywhere.”

Those free-willing transfers, Ross and the others, weren’t the only plagues on Auburn’s scholarship numbers.

Forward Josh Langford and guard Cedrick McAfee were dismissed from the program by Barbee in April 2012 for violation of team rules, and forward Shareif Adamu followed suit three months ago. Guard Varez Ward did not return to the team after falling under reported investigation for point shaving last March.

Luke Cothron and Shawn Kemp Jr. never made it to Auburn after signing, failing to qualify academically.

On the other hand, outgoing senior Noel Johnson left Clemson midway through the 2010-11 season, and a week later, his transfer to Auburn was announced. KT Harrell withdrew from Virginia in December 2011, and the following summer was on his way to the Plains, an expected contributor for next year after sitting out 2012-13 due to NCAA transfer rules.

Both Johnson and Harrell were in search of more playing time and a faster, up-tempo style of basketball.

Noel Johnson said he hasn’t discussed his experience with younger teammates, but he does have advice for them.

“You came in together, you might as well finish out together and graduate,” he said. “Just stay in touch with each other, no matter what.”