Tyler Barnes will never be a basketball star. He probably peaked as a star high school player in Louisville, Ky. But for the last four years, he’s been a walk-on player for the University of Alabama. He’s a chemical engineering major with lots of academic honors who rides the bench because he loves being part of a team. He sometimes gets into games with a minute or two to go, but only if Alabama has a big lead. This Saturday, it was senior day for Alabama basketball, so it was his last chance to play in Coleman Coliseum. Alabama Coach Nate Oats says that one of the team starter’s came to him an hour before the game started — and fellow senior Alex Reese asked Oats if Barnes could start in his place for this one game. Even though the game was huge for Alabama, which is ranked No. 6 in the country and trying to wrap up an SEC title, Oats agreed. Barnes started and played the first three minutes, grabbing what was only the fourth rebound of his career and missing his only shot. Barnes has a great future as an engineer, but you’ll never again hear from him as a basketball player. For three shining minutes Saturday, though, he was a starter for a top-10 college basketball team — and his parents were in the stands from Kentucky to see it. There’s a lot of ugliness in college basketball right now, but this story makes me happy.
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