T-Wolves bag Barton
Charles Barton needed a little time to sort out his life and get his head straight.
He achieved that and then some when he took a year off from basketball and his studies at Thompson Rivers University in Kamloops to work on the pipelines up north in Fort St. John.
A year up there was all it took reaffirm some things he probably already knew – basketball is his passion and an athletic scholarship is his best bet to keep playing it.
“It (Fort St. John) was different, just the lifestyle in general. I don’t think it’s for me, but I made some cash, enough for next year,” said Barton, a 6-foot-4 Fulton grad who played two seasons at forward with the TRU WolfPack before his hiatus.
“I needed a break from school and basketball. I just wasn’t sure what I wanted to study, and I also had some loans to pay off. My mind-set was ‘I’m here to make some money and I want to get back to school as soon as possible and get my degree.’”
But instead of returning to Kamloops, the 21-year-old wanted “a chance for a fresh start” so he signed with the UNBC Timberwolves of Prince George.
Despite being a tier lower than Canadian Interuniversity Sport (CIS), Barton is happy to resume his court career in the B.C. Colleges Athletic Association (BCCAA).
“It’s still very competitive, it’s just a lower level.”
Barton kept his foot on the court by playing in a men’s rec league twice a week up north. It may not have been collegiate-calibre ball, but it was enough to fuel Barton’s desire to return to school.
“The competition wasn’t that strong but it gave me the idea that I wanted to keep playing. I really missed basketball,” he explained.
Since deciding to come back, Barton has spent the last four months sponging floor time wherever he can find it – namely Fulton, Priest Valley and Dogwood gyms – to work on individual skills and shake off some of the rust. He has even found a few pickup games.
“There are enough talented players around the area where I can get a good 3-on-3 workout now and then,” said Barton, adding he plans to head to Prince George soon for some workouts with head coach Todd Jordan and the T-Wolves.
“It’ll take some time, but I still have three months to get myself ready, and I think I have the drive to do it.”
Jordan believes Barton, with his sky-high leaping ability, will have little trouble rediscovering the form that allowed him to develop into a dynamic two-way player at TRU.
“Charles will be a great addition for us. Personality-wise he will be a good fit with the guys and he has experience playing at the CIS level. He is a tremendous athlete and I think his abilities will complement our up-tempo style of play,” said Jordan, on the T-Wolves’ website.
Another perk of playing with the Timberwolves will be a reunion with fellow Fulton star Joel Rybachuk, a terrier-like point guard who set up Barton for countless drives to the rim in their days with the Maroons.
“You can’t base your decision on friendship where you’re going to go to school, but it was a factor,” said Barton. “We were both excited about that.”
The Timberwolves went 16-2 last season, advancing to their third straight national championships. They won their first-ever CCAA title in 2010, and ranked fourth when they hosted the tournament in 2009.
“They’ve been a winning team the last four years Joel has been there. He’s always bragging about it,” grinned Barton. “I’m pretty excited about the program and it’ll be nice to get some wins.”
After studying education at TRU, Barton has decided to transfer into business at UNBC and will specialize in human resources.
Barton is the fourth major commitment Jordan has received for next season. His recruiting class also includes 6-foot-10 local product Kevan Madsen, 6-foot-6 Gabe Aubertin of Kettle Falls, Wash. and 5-foot-7 point guard Billy Cheng of Richmond.