When it comes to professional sports a lot of the time fans favorite players are usually either the cream of the crop or the star of their favorite team. In college that can be true as well, but the constant roster turnover and rise of one-and-dones has led to fans putting more weight into personalities and who they enjoy watching more so than simply who is the best.
That holds true for me particularly as my favorite player wasn't the best guy on the roster and, even worse, never truly lived up to his potential before getting kicked off his first team.
That player is Kelsey Barlow.
Kelsey Barlow had a nickname commonly used when he played for the Boilermakers. That nickname was God Dammit Barlow, or GDB for short. And boy was that nickname fitting.
On one hand you had by far the best perimeter defender on Purdue's roster, on the other hand you had a guy that would repeatedly get called for fouls in the backcourt for absolutely no reason. On one hand you'd have one of the most athletic and gifted players out on the court, followed by moments where he simply coasted by and did absolutely nothing. He had moments like the end of the first half versus Iona, where Barlow inexplicably nailed a halfcourt buzzer beater in a game Purdue would only win by one. Then he would get himself suspended just prior to the NCAA Tournament. Naturally the Boilermakers would get knocked out by a team that they couldn't defend on the perimeter.
While Barlow's frustratingly erratic behavior created a rift in the fan base, with some putting up with him and others despising him, his personality helped him stand out to me. I can watch countless talented players go up and down the court and be great at basketball, but there are only so many people that I've personally enjoyed watching. Everything from the time he sat on the bench giving the choke gesture to the Hoosiers as Purdue knocked them off to his infamous posterization of Jared Sullinger.
Does it even surprise you that Barlow ultimately got kicked off the team after an incident at a local bar that led to fellow basketball player D.J. Byrd getting arrested for public intoxication?
When everything was said and done Barlow ended up at Illinois-Chicago for his last season of college basketball and went on to lead the team in scoring, assists, steals and, naturally, turnovers. Hell, he was just one shy of leading the team in defensive rebounds and almost led the team in blocks. He even blew up for totals of 38 and 31 points respectively in back to back outings versus Wagner and SMU.
At the end of the day it's kind of a shame that his career flamed out at Purdue because of his sporadic behavior off of the court, but it still didn't change that fact that Barlow was an extremely athletic basketball player with an energetic personality both on and off the court.
Unfortunately Barlow's collegiate career has came to a close. Not gonna lie, I miss it already.