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Northern Durham basketball standout Barkley commits to East Carolina

Northern Durham High basketball standout Kentrell Barkley, who gained national attention after an altercation in July with former UNC guard and current Charlotte Hornet P.J. Hairston during a pickup basketball game in Durham, has committed to East Carolina University.

Barkley, a 6-foot-5, 195-pound senior, helped Northern post a 26-3 record during the 2013-2014 season. The Knights reached the third round of the N.C. High School Athletic Association 4A playoffs before losing to eventual state champion Apex 64-63 on a last-second shot.

Barkley is the No. 3-ranked senior basketball player in North Carolina and the No. 97 player in the country by Rick Lewis of Phenom Hoop Report, an online basketball recruiting site.

“He is one of the hardest-working players I have ever seen,” Lewis said. “He is a stat sheet stuffer with points, rebounds, steals and assists, but the biggest thing about him is that he is a competitor. He has a high motor and plays with a purpose.”

Lewis said East Carolina is a good fit for Barkley, who had more than a dozen scholarship offers.

“Someone might wonder why he chose East Carolina over places like Rutgers,” Lewis said. “But ECU is a good opportunity for him. East Carolina is going to be televised 17 times this year. It plays in an up-and-coming conference, and Kentrell will have a chance to contribute immediately.

“He can play in-state and is about two hours from home. His family and friends will have the chance to see him play, and Coach (Jeff) Lebo is a player’s coach. When you watch Barkley play, he is all over the court. He has a nose for the ball. He is really going to fit in well with Coach Lebo.”

Hairston was charged with misdemeanor assault after an incident on July 6 during a pickup game at a Durham YMCA. The hearing court date was moved from Aug. 8 to Sept. 12. William Thomas II, one of Hairston’s three attorneys in court, said the case might not be heard until Oct. 3.

The Hornets chose Hairston 26th overall on June 26 in a prearranged trade with the Miami Heat. Over the past year, Hairston has had various off-court issues, some of which cost him his NCAA eligibility at the University of North Carolina and forced him into the NBA Development League.

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