by Frank Aceto

Associate Sports Editor

Western Reserve Academy head boys basketball coach Josh Humphrey certainly loves every second if it.

But sometimes, even he thinks it's a bit much at times.

"There are times when I tell him, 'That's enough,'" Humphrey said.

Fortunately for Peter Barba, there's plenty more to come.

The 6-foot-6 senior guard recently made a verbal commitment to continue his academic and basketball careers at Columbia University in New York City.

As a junior, Barba, a notorious gym rat on Reserve's campus, averaged 18.4 points, 7.4 rebounds, 4.2 assists and 3.2 steals per game.

He also shot 54 percent inside the 3-point arc, 45 percent from beyond the arc and 87 percent from the foul line.

Barba was contacted by nearly 200 schools before choosing Columbia.

He also visited Amherst (Mass.), Carnegie Mellon (Pittsburgh), Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Harvard (Mass.), Yale (Conn.), Dartmouth (N.H.), Cornell (N.Y.), Miami (Oxford), Elon (N.C.), Loyola of Chicago, Colgate (N.Y.), Bucknell (Pa.) and the United States Naval Academy (Md.).

Barba first met Columbia's coaching staff when he was a freshman.

"I've had a great relationship with the coaching staff for a long time," he said. "I've gotten to know the coaches at an elite camp for the last three years. I also loved the city and I love the direction this program is going."

The Lions finished 21-13 overall and 8-6 in the Ivy League last season.

"They almost took down Harvard," Barba said. "They have gotten a lot of quality wins. Getting to the NCAA Tournament is definitely the goal."

Barba led WRA to a 13-6 record as a junior. While he has emerged as the team's star player in the last two years, it may be hard to tell in practice since Barba has such a tireless work ethic.

"Peter is very unselfish and is a very team-oriented player," Humphrey said. "He's always doing extra work in the gym. He has the best work ethic of any player I've coached. He definitely deserves everything he gets."

Barba certainly knows he didn't do everything all by himself. The Pioneers proved the sum is greater than its parts during the 2013-14 season.

"Everyone stepped up," Barba said. "It was a really successful season for the program. We beat a lot of really good teams."

Barba said he is leaning toward studying business or economics at Columbia.

"It was not purely a basketball-based decision," he said. "Academics played a huge role. New York City is the center of the world. There are so many opportunities for me."

While Barba proved to be a tough matchup for just about everyone, he also saw what it was like when an opponent had an advantage against him.

"He's a guard/forward, but sometimes, he had to play center for us," Humphrey said. "Not one time did he say, 'Coach, I can't do this.' Sometimes he had to guard guys that were bigger and stronger than him. We have a no nonsense-type of team and it all starts with Peter."

And no one is harder on himself than Barba, who always thinks he can do more for his team.

"He's never satisfied," Humphrey said. "There are times when he tells me, 'I could have made a few more shots.' He does it the proper way. He doesn't disrupt what we're trying to do as a team."

Now that Barba knows what his future holds, he can simply enjoy his senior season, right?

Yes and no.

"There's still pressure on me to play well," Barba said. "We've scheduled some tougher opponents for next year. I'm looking forward to a really successful year."


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