By Zac Piesse
Tasmanian native, Callum Barker has been tearing it up for Bradley University in NCAA Division One. Starting at Centre as a freshmen, Barker has averaged ten points and five rebounds in a squad that has ten freshmen in its ranks, four of which are starting. After attending St. Virgil’s College then Guilford Young throughout his high schooling, Barker’s work ethic has never subsided. I for one have witnessed first hand how hard Barker has worked to make it to a Division One university in the United States. Whilst attending high school with “Cal”, I watched him workout in our school hall/court for hours on end before the beginning of school, working on his jumper, which is near automatic from midrange and lights out from three. As a 6’9′ (205 cm) centre, he is a little undersized, but what he lacks in height, he certainly makes up for in heart. With tenacious rebounding and intense on-ball defending, this helped Barker automatically get on the good side of the Bradley University faithful. Barker is the only (known) Australian at the University, but he is hoping that other Australians might consider attending the university given the immaculate facilities, and also the rich history that the University posses.
Barker stated, “I like to base my style off fellow Australians, Aaron Baynes and Cameron Bairstow. I enjoy being physical and battling in the paint, but also like stepping out and hitting the three.” Barker fits the mould of the modern day big man perfectly, as it is becoming more important that the big man can shoot the ball, as well as playing a role inside. At the time of writing, Bradley University were sitting at 1-3, and they had just played against some top NCAA talent in Arizona and Virginia who have been a constant fixture in “March Madness” for years. With important games coming up against national ranked Wichita State and other talented college teams, Barker has created a great base to build off, leading into the rest of the year. Hopefully this will lead to a March Madness appearance, for Bradley University and the “big Aussie”.
As Australian Basketball continues to go from strength to strength, Barker talked about the prospects of Australian Basketballers all throughout the country. “Australia has always been a good basketball spot but we have just never had the exposure or technology to be recognized overseas… YouTube and other social media platforms is making it easier to become recognized and find your way to an American College.” The road has been long, and full of ups and downs from Barker, but he believes that the keys to success within basketball are hard work, determination and the hunger to succeed, which are similarities for all college players throughout the U.S. and indeed the world. As the future progresses, Barker will continue to go from strength to strength, and despite not able to tell me about the Bradley University “college parties” (on the record), I’m sure he is having a ball, and will continue to make Tasmania and Australia proud.