Dec. 1, 2011
By Jon Cooper
Drew Barry has always been about helping.
In his four years starting as Georgia Tech’s starting point guard, (1993-96), Barry helped out on 724 field goals — no one in school history assisted on more.
Following in older brother Jon’s footsteps — he played the 1991-92 and ’92-93 seasons — Drew quarterbacked the Jackets to the 1993 ACC Tournament Championship as a freshman and to a regular-season conference title as a senior. He still holds school records for assists in an ACC Tournament Game (13, vs. Clemson in ’93) and for career assists in the tourney (27).
Barry was a second-round pick of the Seattle SuperSonics in the 1996 Draft, and played professionally for three years, with the Atlanta Hawks, the Sonics and finally the Golden State Warriors and back with the Hawks, before calling it a career.
But basketball — especially Georgia Tech basketball — is still very much in his blood and he has found a new way to enjoy his passion and share it and his knowledge, working as a broadcaster in the ESPN family.
Barry, who still lives in the area, visited midtown sportsbar STATS on Monday night for a Tech-related event (the next night he provided color analysis for Tuesday night’s Big Ten/ACC Challenge game between the Yellow Jackets and Northwestern).
He took a few minutes to share his thoughts with Sting Daily on Head Coach Brian Gregory’s focus on bringing back the glory days, what made his days at Georgia Tech so special and his future as a broadcaster.
STING DAILY: What do you think about Coach Gregory’s efforts in reaching out to former players?
DREW BARRY: He’s very adamant about getting us back here. I think that’s a good thing. For Coach Gregory, obviously, he’s got a tough hill to climb with how the program’s been over the years, trying to reconnect with a lot of the former players and also with the fans. It’s a challenging year given the stadium and the reconstruction. So anything that he can do to bring the Tech family back together is a positive.
SD: What are your thoughts on McCamish Pavilion?
BARRY: I think it’s going to be great. [Alexander Memorial Coliseum] was definitely in need of a facelift. With recruiting and all the facilities that are being built around the country, you definitely have to have top-of-the-line facilities, locker rooms and everything. The [Zelnak Center] has been great. You couple that with the new arena, I think it’s going to be very helpful.
SD: Do you like the idea that Tech is focusing on its history in decorating the new arena?
BARRY: Certainly that’s very special. I loved my time at Georgia Tech. Georgia Tech, not only from a basketball standpoint but from an education standpoint, has made the foundation for me and is how I’m able to provide for my children and my family. It’s very special and it’s also nice to acknowledge the history and the tradition here. There has been a lot of great players and great people that are here. So to be able to go to the Thrillerdome and see myself up there along with the [Matt] Harprings and the [Mark] Prices and the [Duane] Ferrells, and all the other great players that are here, it’s pretty special.
SD: How is your broadcasting career going and how much are you getting to do?
BARRY: I did the [Nov. 23] Siena game and I’m doing the [Georgia Tech-Northwestern game Tuesday] night. They bring me in out of the bullpen every now and then. I’ve been doing a lot of studio stuff down in Charlotte. It’s been nice to get back and talk basketball, which is my passion and what I know. At least I think I know it (Laughs). That’s always special when you can do the Georgia Tech games. I don’t have a lot of preparation to do because I know them so well. It’s fun. I am in financial sales. That’s my real job. That pays the bills. The announcing is just fun.
SD: Do you see the day when broadcasting is your first job?
BARRY: I don’t know. I’d have to do a lot of traveling and climb the ladder to get up there with the likes of Jimmy Dykes and [Jay] Bilas and them. For now, I’m happy just spending time with my family and getting a couple of games to scratch the itch of hoops that I’m no longer a part of. I don’t necessarily believe that it will be the full time job anytime soon.
SD: How many Tech games do you attend a year?
BARRY: I probably only get to three or four games a year with my job. So it’s a little bit of a challenge. I actually send more clients to the games without me going than I get to go to, which is unfortunate. Hopefully that will change and I can get to more and more games and be able to support the program like I should.
SD: What is your favorite memory of Thrillerdome?
BARRY: Probably my freshman year when we beat No. 1 Duke at home (80-79, on Jan. 10, 1993) and the place was going crazy. It was kind of like my coming out party. I had a bunch of assists (five, along with 11 points and four steals) and played really well. Being a freshman, no one really expected much and Martice Moore and I both had really good games. That was my favorite memory because Duke being the storied program and being No. 1 and us being able to upset them on the home court in front of the home fans was pretty special.
SD: With all the great point guards in Georgia Tech history, how does it feel knowing you are the school’s all-time career assists leader?
BARRY: Yeah, well, I wasn’t the typical point guard. You had Mark [Price] and Travis [Best] and [Stephon] Marbury, that were more scoring point guards so somebody had to pass the ball. I keep joking with everyone I think my assist record will stay in tact because if you’re really good you only stay in college for two years. I don’t see anybody staying for four. So hopefully that’ll stay around for a while.
SD: How often do you see your old teammates?
BARRY: I see Matt [Harpring] a lot. I know his kids, we have poker nights over at his house a lot with a lot of the former players like [Jon] Babul and Shaun Fein, and a lot of the managers. So we get together a good bit. I keep up with James [Forrest] and Travis Best a lot. Those were the guys that were in the trenches with me. So it’s been nice.
SD: What made you decide on Georgia Tech?
BARRY: My brother Jon was already here, so that made it easy. But how could you say no to Bobby Cremins? The guy was great. He’s still very close. He’s like a father figure to me. He’s the best. Then, also, couple that with the ACC at the time was by far the top conference in the country. So if you wanted to compete and play against the best, you wanted to get to the ACC.
SD: There was no Big Ten/ACC Challenge when you played. Would you have liked to had one?
BARRY: When I played it was the ACC-Big East Challenge. So, that was great and I loved it. As a player it was a lot of fun. You played in the game, they would give all the players a really nice gift. That was pretty special. It was nice to be able to go out there and stake the claim that you had the best conference and at that time, those two conferences were the powerhouses. There were a lot of great match-ups on a lot of great teams. I remember it well.
Back in the day when I was playing it was certainly the best. Now there is a lot of parity with a lot of kids leaving early for the NBA and not staying in school that has allowed a lot of conferences to compete. I don’t think the ACC has the depth that it’s had in the past. The top teams, the Carolinas and Dukes are always there but the depth hasn’t been there and the Big East, when you’ve got 30 teams in your conference, which is a joke, 16 teams, you have a chance of building a pretty good conference. So the ACC has always been one of the tops, it has a storied tradition and I think it’s one of the best in the country year in and year out.