It may seem like a simple question every team asks as the season progresses, but for the Weddington boys’ basketball team that question has a deeper meaning.
During a September workout the team calls “Wet Wednesdays,” senior point guard Jordan Barber posed that question to teammates when he wrote “What’s next” with his fingers on the steamed-up mirror in the weight room during a water break.
The question has become the motto for Barber and the entire Weddington (13-2 through Jan. 15) basketball team.
“Every Wednesday we shut the doors to the weight room and it gets so steamy, it’s kind of like a fog,” said Barber, 17, who at 5-foot-11 and 155 pounds benches 215 pounds and squats 355. “That one Wednesday, we were actually coming back from a water break when I decided to write that on the mirror. It just sort of came to me because I was thinking about what would be next for this workout and this team.
“Now, ‘What’s next?’ has become the motto and theme for this whole season. For us, it means to always keep working and always keep going, whether we are on the court or in weight room or whatever we are doing.
“Now it’s something we think about every day, and it really motivates us.”
Weddington coach Gary Ellington says the question has turned into his team’s mentality.
“When Jordan wrote ‘What’s next?’ on the mirror, the rest of his team followed him,” Ellington said. “That has become our motto, with our guys always looking for the next-play, next-man-up mentality. Jordan leads that charge.”
Barber is just the third four-year varsity basketball player in the short history of the Weddington basketball program, joining Bennett Rutherford (the school’s all-time leading scorer) and Brad Rhodes.
Barber has been a starter since late in his freshman season, when his older brother, Julian, a 2012 Weddington graduate, and Rutherford shifted to allow the younger Barber to run the show.
For his career, Jordan Barber has 927 points, 239 assists, 244 rebounds and a school-record 205 steals. The senior guard has been at his best this season.
Barber is averaging a career-best 16.6 points (previous high was 11 ppg), 5.1 rebounds, 3.1 assists and 3.1 steals per game.
“Jordan has stepped up his game in every way and really become our go-to guy,” Ellington. “Jordan is a guy who makes everyone else on the court better. The last few years, he’s had guys like Bennett Rutherford and then Brandon Watts to be that lead guy. This year there is no question that he is the guy, and not everybody can handle it. But Jordan loves the responsibility and he relishes the pressure and he wants the ball.”
Barber had a 34-point 10-rebound, five-assist, five-steal performance this season in a Dec. 4 win against Parkwood, going 12-of-19 from the field. He also had one of his better games in a Jan. 9 win against rival Marvin Ridge, scoring 23 points and grabbing eight rebounds and four steals.
Ellington says Barber has a lot of Division II interest from schools like Catawba, Lincoln Memorial, Mount Olive and North Greenville.
Barber says he is confident the right opportunity will come.
“I feel like I have to go out and make a statement in every single game,” Barber said. “And so my focus is to go out and play as hard as I can every night and do whatever I have to do to help my team win.”
Winning has defined Barber. He has been a part of 73 victories in his Weddington career, seven short of the record by Rhodes, who was a part of 80 wins from 2002-05.
Barber has the support of a veteran backcourt with classmates Jordan Sharpe (8.7 points per game) and A.J. Fulp (10.4 ppg).
The Warriors also have gotten big contributions inside from seniors Chris Trevisan (8 ppg, 9 rebounds) and Colin Gorham, junior Tucker Snyder and sophomores Ryan Schweiger and Timmy Havens.
“It doesn’t matter how many points any of us score as long as we, as a Weddington basketball family, get the win,” Barber said. “Right now we are playing good, but we feel like we can be even better.”
The Warriors won a school-record 27 games on their way to the 3A state quarterfinals last season. They hope to make a similar run this February and March. Along the way, the Warriors hope to win back-to-back Southern Carolinas’ Conference titles for the first time.
The Weddington players are motivated to make sure their season doesn’t end like last year, when Morganton Freedom guard Khris Gardin hit a 30-foot 3-pointer with 2.1 seconds left in the 3A West Regional semifinal game to win it 63-60.
Ellington used the video of the shot to inspire his team before its SCC opener against Cuthbertson.
“Watching that video and remembering how bad we felt really fired us up and made us realize how bad we want to get back to Greensboro and then go even further,” Barber said. “Every team, especially every senior, wants their last game to be a victory. That’s what we are shooting for.”