Barrett settling in as Easternís head man

By Casey Kellas, The Observer August 09, 2013 11:46 am
Eastern Oregon University’s new men’s basketball coach Jared Barrett has been on the job for a month now, and Barrett has been a busy man during that time.

Barrett said he was hired right in the middle of prime recruiting season, so he was forced to hit the ground running.

“The biggest time for recruiting is in July. I would have liked to have been hired a month sooner, but I was able to go to tournaments in Portland, Seattle and Las Vegas,” Barrett said. 

Barrett said he has talked to some potential recruits who he thinks could help the Mountaineer program in the coming years. 

He’s also had a chance to meet some of his current players.

“I’ve met about half the players on the roster,” Barrett said. “I got a good feel for the majority of the players. I don’t know the depth I’m going to have yet, but I’ll get that when we report in September.”

The new coach hasn’t had a chance to meet every player in person, but he has spoken to them over the phone. He said he was able to retain everyone who was scheduled to return, but it took a little work.

“The players really loved Isaac, and they should. I’m good friends with him and we played together. But I had to re-recruit some of the guys,” Barrett said. “I called them all and told them that I wanted them back. I told them they would have everything that Isaac had promised them.”

Replacing a coach who had led EOU to a No. 1 ranking nationally isn’t an easy thing to do, but Barrett, a former EOU player and alum, doesn’t need to be told that.

And he’s not looking to overhaul the program, either.

“It doesn’t make sense to come in and change anything,” he said. “I think the key is recruiting good kids. I’m looking for team players — players who have the team’s agenda in mind. I want to continue what Isaac did and try to win even more.”

Barrett said he has a system in mind of what he wants to do offensively and defensively, but until he gets the team together for the first time, he won’t commit to one way of playing.

“I wanna run,” he said. “That’s something Isaac liked to do. We want to be a good defensive team, rebound and take care of the ball. But I want to get the ball inside more. I want to reward our big men.”

Returning point guard J.D. Esters is one player who Barrett thinks will play a major part on next year’s team, according to the new head coach.

Big men Kalvin Johanson and Kyllian Wood will also be key, along with wing player Craig Tucker.

One newcomer who might catch the eye of fans will be guard Kevin Attila, who is transferring to EOU after stops at Hawaii Pacific and College of Southern Idaho.

Attila was the 4A state player of the year for La Grande High School before graduating in 2010.

“I’m still looking to add one more player, but I don’t know if I’ll be able to,” Barrett said.

But more importantly than anything, Barrett said he is just happy to be back in Mountaineer country.

“It’s unbelievably cool,” he said. “It’s real special to be back here.”

Barrett will have a chance to see the team together for the first time Sept. 22 when the players report. 

The coach expects his first year in charge to be a successful one.

“I think anybody coming into this program, (the goal) on the court is to compete for conference championships,” Barrett said. 

“We wanna be the hardest working team in the conference.”

Contact Casey Kellas at 541-975-3351 or This e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it Follow Casey on Twitter @lgoKellas.