IN THE SPOTLIGHT
Evan Barnes spent some time in an alternative universe the other night.
No doubt, he’d like to return.
It was an evening of mythic proportions for the Glenbrook North senior.
It was magical.
Hitting eight straight three-pointers and finishing with a career-high 30 points puts a basketball player on a different plane.
For Barnes, a pure shooter who aptly wears jersey No. 3, the performance was unparalleled.
“I’ve never scored more than 23 [points] in the game,” said Barnes, following his team’s 71-51 victory over visiting Grayslake North on Dec. 19.
The 6-foot-2, 170-pound guard saw the rim — officially 18 inches in diameter — different from any other player on the court that night.
“It [the basket] looked ginormous to me tonight,” said Barnes, who connected on 8 of 9 threes — after making only 13 threes in his first eight games of the season.
“He was amazing,” said GBN’s Max Knebelkamp, who assisted on five his three-pointers. “You could tell when the ball came off his hands that it was going in.”
“Even on his miss [with 1:02 left in the third quarter], the ball looked perfect coming out of his hands,” noted GBN coach David Weber.
Vasili Angelos couldn’t get the ball to Barnes fast enough. The reserve guard started dropping dimes like they were going out of style, assisting him three times in the first two minutes of the second quarter.
Barnes’ surefire shots turned into sure things.
“He [Angelos] started celebrating them before they even went in,” said Barnes, with a slight smile.
Having a feel for your shot is just about the best feeling.
“I’m a very streaky shooter,” admitted Barnes. “And right now, I’m on a hot streak. Hope I can stay there.”
The season didn’t start out this way for Barnes, who is averaging 9.0 points per game. He didn’t score more than five points in any of the four games in the season-opening Thanksgiving Tournament.
It would appear that his game changed course, when he pumped in 21 points — 4-for-8 from beyond the arc — in a 54-43 win over Glenbrook South on Dec. 2. Barnes has now finished in double figures in four consecutive games.
According to Weber, Grayslake North might’ve been caught off guard.
“I think he surprised them,” said Weber. “When they scouted us earlier in the season, they didn’t see any of that [from Barnes].”
But Knebelkamp wasn’t shocked by Barnes’ 30-point outburst.
“We grew up playing sports together. We’ve been friends for a long time,” said Knebelkamp. “So I wasn’t surprised by what he did tonight.
“We see it in practice every single night,” the teammate added.
Weber loves Barnes’ quick release and newfound confidence.
His athleticism is unquestioned. Besides being an avid golfer, Barnes is a potential ace hurler for GBN’s baseball team this spring. Last year, the right-hander logged 42.2 innings and ended up with a 3.77 earned run average.
“He’s got real good eye-hand coordination,” said Weber.
Barnes’ all-around game certainly surfaced in the third quarter, when he made like a defensive back and intercepted three passes. For the game, he had four steals to go along with six rebounds.
One of his best plays of the night came midway through the third frame, when he swiped a pass at half-court line and raced in for an uncontested layup.
Then, in the final minute of the third period, Barnes came out of nowhere to score on a weak-side rebound.
“I really liked his hustle plays tonight,” said Weber.
And seeing a player drop 30 in a game was a treat for the veteran GBN coach.
“It’s been a while. We saw a lot of 30s back in the day,” said Weber, referring to past GBN greats Jon Scheyer and Chris Collins.
Weber found a perfect time to take Barnes out of the game.
With 5:15 left in the fourth quarter, Barnes went to the foul line to score point No. 29 and point No. 30.
Moments later, the buzzer sounded and Spencer Malkin entered the game to replace Barnes.
Notable: With the win over Grayslake North, Glenbrook North improved its overall record to 8-1. In addition to Evan Barnes, the Spartans were led statistically by Kellen Witherell (10 points, 2 rebounds), Brian Johnson (8 points, 5 rebounds), Frank Siegien (6 points, 6 rebounds) and Max Knebelkamp (8 rebounds, 6 assists, 2 blocks). … GBN made 14 three-pointers in the game. The Spartans had 17 offensive rebounds. … Grayslake North’s record slipped to 3-7.