By Doug Gorman
Lovejoy High School senior Josh Barker began dribbling a basketball when he was just five.
More than a decade later he's become very good at it.
So good the former high school point guard will take his skills to the next level after signing a basketball scholarship to Savannah State University during a ceremony Thursday morning.
Barker's high school career began on a high note when he made the Wildcats' varsity squad as a freshman. In his four-year high school career he rarely left the floor.
"He's makes everybody better around him because of the way he plays," said Lovejoy head coach Mac McConnell. "He is a great leader out there."
Barker leaves his high school career behind after setting a school record 450 assists.
This past season Barker had twice as many assists as anybody else on his team as he finished the year with 175 to help the team to an impressive 28-2 record.
Barker and his teammates' state championship hopes ended, ironically in Savannah, as the Wildcats fell to rival Jonesboro by three points in overtime.
"That was really a tough loss," said Barker. "To go overtime against them and lose was really hard."
The two teams from Clayton County were state ranked all season, but didn't play until the state tournament since they are in different regions.
A Clayton County team also shattered the Wildcats' title hopes during Barker's junior year as Morrow ended Lovejoy's season.
Despite the loss, Barker calls the contest with Morrow one of the best games of his high school career.
"I came out on fire in that game and hit a lot of 3-point shots," he said. "We played hard, but also lost that game by just three points."
His quick hands also led to stellar defense as he finished second in steals with 67. He also led the team by drawing seven charges.
The talented point guard earned All-Southern Crescent honors for his efforts during his senior year.
Barker joins a Savannah State program on the rise. The squad recently joined the NCAA Division I ranks and will play an impressive schedule next season.
Savannah State coach Ed Daniels is a graduate of Marquette University and has scheduled a game against his alma mater next year.
Marquette became the sentimental favorite for many during the recently completed NCAA tourney after knocking off No. 1 ranked Kentucky.
Daniels accepted the head coaching position at Savannah State late last year and wasn't able to sign any players. Barker becomes the second-year coach's first official recruit.
"It's important to build a program around the point guard, and Josh has all the tools. He should have the opportunity to come in and play right away," Daniels said.
Barker, who hopes to study accounting, is excited about his future.
"I feel really comfortable with my decision," he said. "Everybody has been really nice and I look forward to it."