Barker’s breakout season makes him the Telegram’s top player
He scored a team-high 460 points and averaged 20 points, 8 rebounds and 3.5 assists per game.
Biding his time has paid off for Superior High School’s Joey Barker, a three-year member of the Spartans’ basketball team.
The senior didn’t get much playing time his first two years, while playing behind such players as Mason Ackley, Xavier Patterson, Beau Severson and Ben Rhodes. He only scored 76 points during that time.
With a majority of the Spartans' starting lineup gone, Barker enjoyed a breakout season which included a team-high 460 points (20 ppg), along with 8.0 rebounds and 3.5 assists per game.
For those efforts, Barker has been named the 2020 Superior Telegram All-Area Basketball Player of the Year.
“Joey turned himself into a dominant player and was the focal point of every team we played,” SHS coach Jake Smith said. “The improvement that he has made throughout his high school years is a testament to his hard work, commitment and dedication. He’s also a fantastic role model for our younger players to see what hard work can do for you.”
Watching and playing with Ackley, Patterson, Severson and Rhodes helped Barker learn how to play the game the right way.
“I learned it can’t be done by yourself — you have to play as a team and defense wins games,” Barker said. “Those guys were great teammates and always played great defense.”
When Barker was in middle school, he remembers watching Brandon Myer play for the Spartans. Myer recently became Minnesota Duluth’s all-time leading scorer.
"I’ve watched him a lot and that inspiration also played a big role in my success,” he said.
As a team, Superior’s season didn’t go as well as expected. Barker was the only senior on a team that started four juniors and finished with an 11-12 record.
Barker said he felt pressure at the beginning of the season to lead the team, since he was the only returning player with varsity minutes. The pressure dissipated, though, because "the younger guys stepped up," he said.
A few of the guys Barker is referring to are juniors Kaden Kimmes, Draden Jensen, Johnny Rhodes, Ben Hunter and Lars Olson.
“A .500 season might not sound as good as .750, but it would have been a lot worse without those guys,” Barker said “I’m really excited for them next year. With what they have coming back, they will do a lot better.”
Barker’s future is also pretty exciting, as he looks forward to attending UWS and playing for the Yellowjackets.
“A couple of years ago, I realized that I could play college basketball,” Barker said. “I played for an AAU team which was coached by an UWS assistant coach (Jordan Schneidermann) and we started talking about it.
“The more I talked to the college, the more excited I got and then eventually committed there. I can play with Mason and Xavier again, which I’m really excited for. I also know a lot of the guys on the team, and I know a couple of the other incoming freshmen.”
Barker’s other postseason honors include being named first-team All-Lake Superior Conference and being selected to play in the Minnesota-Wisconsin Border Battle All-Star game.
One in-season highlight for Barker was the Spartans victory over Grand Rapids, and UMD recruit John Sutherland, 75-66.
Barker finished with 29 points, including six 3-pointers, while Sutherland had 27 points for the Thunderhawks (17-9).
“That was a fun one,” Barker said. “Going into the game, we were excited. We knew we matched up well, and the fan section was giant. I felt we had a chance to win if we played well.”
Barker was quick to credit his parents, Mike and Carina Barker, for his success.
“I have to thank my parents, especially my dad, for all the hard work he’s done with me. He went out of his way to make me a better basketball player,” Barker said. “I also would not have had the success without my mom. She supported me and did everything she needed to do for me to be successful.”
Barker also thanked Spartan coaches Jake Smith (varsity), Rick Raymond (JV) and Willie Moon (freshmen).
“Jake allowed me the opportunity to be a varsity player at a young age and gave me all the chances that I had,” Barker said. “ Coach Raymond always told me what I did well, but he also told me what was wrong, which is what you want out of a coach.
“And Coach Moon played a big role. He always told me how important lifting weights were, and even though he wasn’t my coach as a junior or senior, he was always there for me.”
SPARTAN SPIN: Barker is also a member of the Spartan baseball team. ... He scored a career-high 32 points in a 69-68 loss to Esko. … Barker plans on taking business classes at UWS.
2020 Telegram team
The 2020 Superior Telegram All-Area Boys Basketball Team, features seven seniors and three juniors.
Among the seniors are Northwestern’s Andrew Klobucher and Jake Brill, and Solon Springs’ Aaron Pfister, who were all members of the 2019 Telegram team.
The remaining four seniors are Barker, Solon Springs’ James Gehl, and Northwestern’s Jagar Stillson and Dayne Evanson.
Juniors on the squad are Superior’s Kaden Kimmes and Draden Jensen and Solon Springs’ Calin Lisson.
Superior Telegram Boys Basketball Players of the Year
2020 — Joey Barker, Sr., Superior
2019 — Mason Ackley, Sr. Superior
2018 — Jens Gehl, Sr., Solon Springs
2017 — Riley Stowers, Sr., Northwestern
2016 — Riley Stowers, Jr., Northwestern
2015 — Superior (starting five -- Nick Mehlum, Connor Gray, Jake Libal, Brandon Myer, Brett Lozon)
2014 — Daniel Gengenbach, Solon Springs
2013 — Erick Tunell, Sr., Superior
2012 — Phil Larson, Sr., Solon Springs
2011 — Joel Lindberg, Sr., Superior
2010 — Joel Lindberg, Jr., Superior
2009 — Steve Tecker, Jr., Northwestern
2008 — Dustin Ritchie, Sr., Superior
2007 — Bart Bailey, Sr., Superior
2006 — Eric Thompson, Sr., Superior
2005 — Jimmy Glaeser, Sr., Northwestern
2004 — Jesse Taylor, Sr., Maranatha
2003 — Keith Ritsche, Sr., Superior
2002 — Alex Maas, Sr., Northwood