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Know Your KU History: Scooter Barry

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This son of an NBA Hall of Famer played pro basketball for almost 20 years.

John Rieger-USA TODAY Sports

Richard Francis Barry IV was nicknamed Scooter at an early age. Perhaps it was to differentiate him from his famous dad, and forge a life of his own. In any case, he did just that.

Scooter Barry is the oldest son of basketball Hall of Famer Rick Barry, and it can’t really be argued that of Scooter, his father, and his three brothers, Drew, Brent, and Jon, Scooter possessed the least amount of basketball talent. But he possessed enough talent to play at the University of Kansas, so we’re really grasping at straws here.

The six foot three guard from California arrived in Lawrence in 1985 and played basketball under Larry Brown for three years and Roy Williams for one. He barely saw the floor as a freshman and a sophomore, and only averaged 4.2 minutes per contest over 34 games in that span.

His chance to shine came in one of KU’s most glorious seasons. In addition to being a championship season, the 1987-88 season is well-known for being one in which KU had to scrap together players. Led by the all-world Danny manning, the team gelled at the right time and went on to win the 1988 NCAA Championship. Barry was a big part of that. Tripling his minutes per game in his junior year, he averaged 3.3 points and 2.0 assists per game in that journey to the title, and as those numbers don’t jump out at first, you have to realize that the KU roster was desperately thin and Larry Brown probably didn’t even envision using Scooter 13 minutes per game.

Scooter Barry might have been fourth off the bench, but the players in front of him were Jeff Gueldner, Keith Harris, and Lincoln Minor. That’s not exactly Sherron Collins, Darnell Jackson, and Cole Aldrich. Barry’s minutes mattered. And while he wasn’t the deciding factor in KU’s run to the title- Manning, Milt Newton, Kevin Pritchard, and Chris Piper were- no one can say that Barry’s minutes, even if they were simply to give Pritchard or Newton a two minute rest, were not valuable.

Barry’s senior and only season under new KU boss Roy Williams was his most productive from a personal point of view. He became a starter, averaged almost 26 minutes per game while pouring in 6.3 points and 5.0 assists per contest. It was enough to get him a tryout with the Boston Celtics, although he never caught on at the NBA level.

While his brothers Jon and Brent each played 14 years in the NBA, and Drew played two, Scooter never saw his NBA dream come true. Instead, he traveled the country and the world playing in lesser leagues across two continents and over the better part of two decades. After writing these pieces for almost two years, I am continually amazed at the amount of pro basketball (in lesser US leagues and in Europe) that KU alums have played.

Scooter Barry has one of the longest basketball careers of any non-NBA KU players. He started off in the 1989-90 season in the CBA with his hometown San Jose Jammers. He retired from pro basketball after the 2005-06 season with Baloncesto León in Spain. While in Europe, he played in Germany, France, Italy, and Spain, and as late as 2000-01, Barry averaged 16.6 PPG for Messina in Italy….in his 11th season.

Not bad for the "fourth best" of the Barry brothers.