MUSKEGON, Mich. (AP) — Life has not been easy for Ke’Ontae Barnes, but the 18-year-old senior at Muskegon Orchard View has learned some virtues along such as diligence and patience.
These days, he’s full of gratitude. The 6-foot shooting guard has been voted The Associated Press Division 2 Player of the Year by a panel of sports writers across the state.
Barnes etched his name into Orchard View’s record books as the school’s all-time leading boys scorer with 1,607 career points. He averaged 26.2 points, 5.4 rebounds, 4.9 steals and 3.7 assists per game for a 17-1 squad that was ranked No. 9 in final Division 2 poll.
The Cardinals’ season ended abruptly the day of the district semifinals because of positive COVID-19 cases on their team and related contact tracing.
“I’m happy how our season went, but I’m not happy how it ended,” Barnes said. “We felt like we would have had a good chance at competing for a (state) championship. We had every piece of the puzzle this year.”
It was certainly not the first time Barnes has dealt with adversity in his life.
He was forced to grow up quickly, according to Orchard View coach Nick Bronsema. Barnes said his biological parents have not really been in his life.
“He started out, at a young age, he was fending for himself basically,” Bronsema said. “He was not perfect. He’s made mistakes, I’m sure, but he’s a kid who is resilient because of the things that have happened to him.
“He is thankful. He has learned to be thankful and grateful. He continues to amaze me with how much he’s grown up, even within the last year.”
When Barnes moved in with uncle Lamond Alston and aunt Vaneeta Pipkins in 2017, life began to turn for the better. The reversal of fortune coincided with his historic, four-year varsity basketball career at Orchard View.
“I’ve learned no matter what, life goes on,” Barnes said. “I just try to keep moving forward with everything and it’s translated to basketball. Basketball is the happy place where I can clear my mind and do everything that I need to do.”
Barnes shattered the school record previously held by Brian Montonati, the former Oklahoma State player who totaled 1,461 points for the Cardinals from 1991 to 1995.
Barnes is still uncommitted for college. He’s going through the recruiting process, which has been hampered by the pandemic, but he’s being pursued by programs ranging from the Division II level to junior college.
Last season, he averaged 27 points per game en route to earning Division 2 first-team All-State accolades.
Barnes was joined on the Division 2 All-State team by Ecorse sophomore Malik Olafioye; Romulus Summit Academy North junior Orlando Lovejoy; Benton Harbor senior Kentrell Pullian; Grand Rapids Catholic Central junior Jack Karasinski; Fowlerville senior Brendan Young; Flint Powers Catholic senior Owen Lobsinger; Grand Rapids Christian senior Kobe Bufkin; Battle Creek Pennfield senior Ryne Petersen and Coloma senior Drew Goodline.
T.J. Meerman was voted Coach of the Year after he guided Grand Rapids Catholic Central to the Division 2 state championship and a 20-0 record.