BY RYAN BLACK | firstname.lastname@example.org
Former Auburn basketball star Korvotney Barber was found dead from an apparent drowning on Sunday in Panama City Beach, Fla.
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.