Male Athlete of the Year

Male Athlete of the Year

The men’s basketball program has moved into a new phase with its first season in the Colonial Athletic Association (CAA), and will be shoved full-force into that phase with the departure of captain and second all-time leading scorer Jose Juan Barea.

In the past four years, Barea has established himself as one of the great basketball players in Northeastern history and earned the honor of The Northeastern News Male Athlete of the Year, but the Puerto Rico native is leaving Huntington Avenue with his sights set on the pros. He recently signed with sports agent Richard Katz and participated in the Portsmouth Invitational Tournament for college seniors, where he earned the Allen Iverson Award for inspiration and effort in his play.

Before he was setting records in Matthews Arena, Barea played one year of basketball and volleyball at Miami Christian High school, where he led the basketball team to a 38-2 record. The team set a Florida state record in wins on the way to winning the 2002 1A Florida state championship. He was named Florida All-State and Miami Christian team MVP.

“I transferred to Miami because I wanted to be recruited to play college basketball,” Barea said. “Scouts don’t go to Puerto Rico to watch games.”

He also played for the championship-winning Puerto Rican team in the FIBA Pan American Junior Basketball Championship in Venezuela.

“It is completely different playing for your country,” he said. “It is a totally different feeling and you are proud.”

When Barea did put on the Husky uniform, the impact was immediate. He was the first freshman in NU history to record 400 points and 100 assists in a season. He was named to the America East All-Rookie Team, All-Tournament Team and All Conference Third Team.

As a sophomore, he was the first Husky in 14 years named First Team America East All-Conference. He led the team and was second in America East in scoring, averaging 20.7 points per game. Barea was the first since Reggie Lewis in 1986-87 to average more than 20 points.

Before the 2004-05 season started, Barea was unanimously named to the America East preseason All-Conference team. That season he tied the school record for points in a game (41) in NU’s 90-79 America East quarterfinal win over Stony Brook.

“The win over Stony Brook when I scored 41 points was one of my favorite games,” Barea said.

Two games later, Northeastern faced Vermont in the America East final, where the Huskies lost 80-57. But the loss was not what made the game controversial. The university suspended Barea after the game for “unnecessarily rough play” in a play where Barea and Vermont’s Martin Klimes both dove for a loose ball, and officials questioned if Barea punched Klimes.

“It happens to a lot of basketball players at some point in your career,” Barea said. “You just have to keep playing and move on. It meant a lot that coach Everhart stuck behind me. He is like a second father to me.”

Barea missed Northeastern’s first- ever bid to the National Invitational Tournament because of the suspension.

During the offseason, rumors abounded about Barea’s future as a Husky.

“Coach Everhart was a big reason I stayed,” he said. “I am glad now that I did. I had a lot of fun this season. We played well in the new league and it was a good season.”

The basketball program benefited from Barea’s decision to stay for his senior year. He ranked second in the nation in assists (8.3) and 18th in scoring (21). On Feb. 18, Barea scored 27 points against Ryder to pass Pete Harris for second on NU’s all-time scoring list. He finished his career with 2,290 points and 721 assists.

“I hope no one passes me for a while,” Barea said. “I hope it is a record that sticks. Someone will have to play a lot and take a lot of shots.”

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