There wasn’t a split-second of hesitation when Marcus Barnett blew his whistle and signaled a jump ball two minutes into Friday’s Wichita Independent girls game at Wichita Trinity.
Someone in the crowd hollered, “Aw, how ’bout a foul?” But Barnett was already hustling to the other end of the court.
Barnett is a mere 24 years old, yet he’s in his seventh season officiating. He has officiated varsity basketball for three seasons and is in his second season of officiating college games, mainly in the KCAC.
“I love this, I enjoy it,” Barnett said. “æ.æ.æ. I enjoy meeting the players and coaches and building relationships with them. I’ve never really had a bad day as a referee.”
Never miss a local story.
He has risen quickly through the ranks, and there’s little question why. Not only is it clear that Barnett has the mechanics down, he knows the game.
Barnett played in high school, even had aspirations of playing in college. But an injury sidelined him heading into his senior season at Heights, so he looked for another way to stay involved.
When he started officiating, he learned from Terry Atwater, a longtime college official from Wichita.
“I’d work with him in games and learn, or I’d call and talk to him about in-game situations, pick his brain,” Barnett said.
What might benefit Barnett most in this profession is his demeanor.
He has a quick and frequent smile and is an unassuming type. Yet his confidence is clear as he positions himself on the court or talks about possible game issues during a pregame chat with the other officials, Tyler Habiger and Greg Hill.
Barnett’s personality helps him deal with the occasional difficulties — whether it’s fans screaming at him or a coach questioning a call.
“At the end of the day, it’s like playing, it’s nothing personal at all,” Barnett said. “æ.æ.æ. I understand how important it is to the players and the coaches to win.”
— Joanna Chadwick