COMMENTARY: Trio Finds Success
November 23, 2009
COACH TRACKS FORMER MOUNTIES
ROGERS Rogers High basketball coach Marty Barnes is probably spending a little more time these days surfing the Internet.
No, Barnes isn’t spending time on Facebook. He’s keeping up with three former Mounties players that are playing Division I basketball.
Two players — Aaron Hawley at Drake and Jonathan Moore at Gardner-Webb — are on full scholarship. Former Mountie Cody Lay is a walk-on at Arkansas and has appeared in one game while also traveling with the team.
Barnes is in his sixth year at Rogers and in his 17th year as a high school coach after coaching 11 seasons at Russellville.
Barnes had two players sign with Division I schools while at Russellville, where he won the 1985 state championship.
“This is a rarity,” Barnes said of having three players at the Division I level.
Hawley signed with Drake before his senior season and was the first Rogers High player to sign since Steve Roberts inked with Oklahoma State in the late 1950s.
Hawley is one of 10 newcomers on the Drake (1-3) roster and has been the first player off the bench. He is playing 15 minutes a game and averaging three points and three steals a game.
“Aaron can play a variety of positions and that is why they recruited him,” Barnes said. “Aaron is a different talent. He was a 6-4 ninth-grader that shot the three well but he developed into this 6-7 perimeter player that is hard on mismatches.”
Hawley said he is aiming for even more playing time as the season progresses.
“I knew I was capable of playing 15-17 minutes, but I want to prove to the coaches that I can handle more playing time,” Hawley said. “The game is a lot more physical and a lot quicker.”
Moore and Lay took different routes to big-time college basketball. Moore went to Shelton State, a junior college in Alabama, but his good grades allowed him to leave after one year.
He landed at Gardner-Webb in Boiling Springs, N.C., and made 23 starts while averaging almost 10 points a game a year ago.
That earned him a scholarship and a chance to play at such places as North Carolina, Duke, Texas and Penn State over the next couple of weeks. Tonight’s game against North Carolina will be broadcast by Fox Sports Net.
Moore is averaging 10.7 points and 2.3 rebounds a game for a Gardner-Webb (Big South) team that is 3-0.
“Jonathan made himself,” Barnes said. “Jonathan wasn’t considered a great junior high player because he was still maturing. I used to kid Jonathan about weighing 115 pounds when I first saw him.
“Jonathan would close the gym down every night. He would listen to what was going on at practice and then take it to another level by practicing on his own.”
Lay went to junior college in Harrison, but left after one season and enrolled at Arkansas. When the Razorbacks had an open tryout for walk-ons, Lay went and earned a Razorbacks uniform. He scored two points in a lopsided win against Alcorn State last week.
“Cody Lay falls into the same category as Jonathan in that he made himself,” Barnes said. “He is a gym rat.”
Barnes said the success that his three former players have achieved has a trickledown eff ect.
“When you have kids playing college basketball, the players that are coming up can say, ‘If I work at it hard enough and get my grades right, I might get that opportunity,’” Barnes said. “When you don’t have players playing college basketball from Rogers, you have the assumption that you can’t play at the next level. If you can shoot the basketball, you have a chance (to play at the next level).”
PAUL NIELSEN IS A NORTHWEST
ARKANSAS NEWSPAPERS SPORTS
WRITER. HIS COLUMN APPEARS