Tim Barnes believes in chasing your dreams, a lesson he learned in high school.
A native of Matteson, Illinois and a 2016 graduate of Southland College Prep Charter High School in Richton Park, Barnes is pursuing a professional basketball career.
Standing five-foot-nine and weighing 140 pounds, many have said a career in the NBA was an impossible dream, but that hasn’t stopped Barnes who currently plays professionally with the Lowen Braunschweig team in Hamburg, Germany.
Recently, he was named the Universal Basketball Union’s Most Valuable Player, the first Hamburg team player to win the award and the youngest since 2015. Last season, Barnes led the league with eight games in over 30 points, three games over 40 points. games and a career-best performance of 45 points.
This summer, Barnes trained with three NBA teams: the Indiana Pacers, Los Angeles Clippers and New York Knicks.
But last week and this week, Barnes has been training with high school students at his alma mater, giving back to the place that started him on the path to success.
“It’s always important to me to give back to the community,” Barnes said. “Growing up, I didn’t have anyone to look up to who came from the area and did great things. I just want to be that example for the kids and be that guide they can reach out to if they need help.
Barnes has also pledged to help fund mental health research, donating $5,000 of his MVP award to the National Alliance on Mental Illness for Research, believing that mental health is an area with which many people struggle but “don’t say anything,” Barnes said. .
Barnes credits much of his basketball success to Southland, a new charter school that was only a few years old when he walked through the doors as a rookie. He credits Southland for giving him a chance to play ball as a rookie and be a leader, when he didn’t even make the team his eighth year of college.
“I will never be able to fully repay everything they gave me,” Barnes said.
But he tried. In 2020 Barnes created a scholarship which is given annually to a student-athlete from Southland and last year Barnes bought uniforms for the varsity basketball team and came over from Armenia, where he was playing at the time, to support the team in their first home game at their new clubhouse. When Barnes attended school, where the state-of-the-art gym now stands was a parking lot.
“It’s a great thing for me to see the growth and the progress,” Barnes said. “It’s great to see how invested the school is in the students, both athletically and academically.”
Barnes attended Southland’s summer basketball camp, teaching students what he knows and helping out Southland’s new boys’ basketball coach, Justin Johnson. Southland athletic director Homer Thomas sees the impact Barnes’ investment of time and money has on the students.
“He really cares about the kids and he knows the game,” Thomas said. “He’s a professional and the kids listen to him. They can relate to him because he’s from here.