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Northrop freshman working for Bruin 'job opening'

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Berry has 'bright future' in Coolman's program

Sunday, June 16, 2013 - 12:01 am

The YouTube videos of Anton Berry tell only part of the story.

Sure, the Northrop freshman-to-be has exceptional basketball skills, from stepping outside to hit a mid-range jumper to slashing to the basket for a layup.

But the 6-foot-2 wing also impresses off the court, where he finished in the top 10 of his class while at Shawnee Middle School to go along with a cordial and humble personality.

Put it all together, and Berry has Bruins Coach Barak Coolman excited about the future.

“Anton is kind of your prototypical blue-collar worker,” Coolman said. “He needs to continue to develop and get physically stronger to be able to compete at the varsity level, but he has a great basketball IQ.

“I see a great future for him.”

Before worrying too much about the future, Berry is focusing on the present. Primarily a post player in middle school, Berry is working on diversifying his game further away from the basket. His versatility is what will eventually make him so dangerous at the high school level, but his primary position will likely be a wing, a spot that Berry admits he is inexperienced with.

“Growing up I was always a post player, I just like the contact,” Berry said. “But (wing) is where I really want to play. I just have to practice ball handling and get better at shooting outside. I have to develop a long-range game and dribble better.”

Berry’s talent really shines in the paint, where his physicality is a mismatch for many opponents in his grade level. While the talent he competes against will take a significant step up at Northrop, the fact that he does not shy away from contact already gives him an advantage.

“He is a tremendous offensive rebounder and has good hands and is comfortable around the basket,” Coolman said. “The question is, can he guard on the perimeter? That is the question right now.”

Berry began the June summer league period on the Bruins’ junior varsity squad, but will likely see some action on the varsity team to get him more exposure to players of a higher caliber.

He will likely be moved around on the court during games to give him different looks and responsibilities.

“(Anton) is starting to get some wing skills and eventually when it is all said and done, he will probably be able to play three or four positions,” Coolman said. “But right now, he is definitely more comfortable closer to the basket.”

Northrop will be looking to replace four starters from last season, with Berry a candidate for at least a spot on the varsity roster. But Coolman does not want to stunt Berry’s long-term growth by promoting him too early.

“I don’t make any promises to anyone, but I do have a lot of job openings (on the varsity squad),” Coolman said. “But it is about development too, especially in kids’ freshman and sophomore years.

“To sit on the bench and be a varsity player doesn’t do you any good, but if you can compete and earn minutes then (Berry) will definitely have a shot.”

Berry has high expectations for himself.

“I definitely want to play varsity (as a freshman),” Berry said. “But right now I am just working on getting better as a player and as a unit with my teammates.”