Fresh off of campus from Indiana University - Purdue University Indianapolis and Marcellus Barksdale is already handling himself as a true professional in and out of the game. Barksdale ranks second all-time in games played (134), eighth all-time in steals (160), ninth in rebounds (593) and blocked shots (66) and 13th in assists (275) in program history and was voted Honorable Mention All-Summit League for the second straight year.
Now the versatile swingman looks back on a memorable college experience and takes us inside the offseason training plan as he prepares for the pros.
Looking back on your college career at IUPUI, how did you change as a person and player through that experience?
My five years at IUPUI were filled with growth, both on and off the court. The most growth happened within myself. My time at IUPUI challenged me and forced me to mature my mental approach to life. My mentality and approach to everything as a freshman was more laid back, I was just going with the flow of everything. This flawed and immature mindset allowed me to take some things for granted. As I grew older, I began to understand the significance of time. As an underclassman I felt like I could always get more time and simply make things up. As an upperclassman, I could finally sense that the end was near. Because of this, my mentality and approach became very calculated and deliberate. I finally understood the value and importance of each day and moment. As a person and player this approach humbled me and challenged me to get the most out of each class, each workout, each practice, and each game.
What are you most proud of during your time at IUPUI?
My master’s degree. My commitment to maximizing my potential during my time at IUPUI is best exhibited by completing my master’s degree in five years and I am very proud of that. My journey at IUPUI was a wild one, full of ups and downs but I always took pride in controlling the controllables and my education was one of the few things in which I had complete control. I’m also proud of my growth as a leader. Being the prominent leader on my teams allowed me to constantly be the example. This made me hold myself to the highest standards all the time and forced me to do things the right way. It pushed me to always compete at a high of level and made me develop personal relationships with every teammate and coach I ever had.
For those not familiar with your game, can you break down the scouting report on Marcellus Barksdale? What are your strengths as a player?
I feel that my game is very versatile. As a player, I’ve always prided myself in having the ability to do everything well. I feel I’m able to be versatile because of my high basketball IQ. I have a good understanding of all aspects of the game and because of this, I’m very fundamentally sound offensively and defensively which allows me to be a natural leader and coach on the floor. Offensively, I’m a strong guard comfortable making plays with or without the ball. I’m kind of old school and love operating in the mid-range areas. Defensively, I pride myself in exhausting opposing players with my physicality and length. It’s always a good feeling to lock a good player down. I love playing the passing lanes and disrupting the timing of offenses. Surprisingly, I block a lot of shots for a guard. Most importantly, I love coming up big when it matters most. I feel most confident when the game gets down to the wire. I always seem to be in the right place at the right time to make winning plays.
Where would you like to grow your game this offseason?
This offseason I am most focused on increasing my scoring ability. For me, its more mental than anything. I naturally began my basketball career as a scorer but often decided to defer to my teammates to handle the scoring load. My biggest focal point this offseason is staying aggressive offensively and regaining extreme confidence in my jump shot. Secondly, I am working to improve my athleticism and vertical explosiveness. For the first time in a couple of years I finally feel my legs getting stronger. Adding more explosiveness to my game will improve my scoring ability because it will allow me to finish at the rim better, make my first step faster, and add more range to my jump shot.
What is your summer training approach -- where are you training, who are training with and what is your training schedule?
This summer, my training approach is very different from approaches I’ve had in the past. In the past, my training was very static with the primary focus to get bigger, stronger, and faster using traditional weightlifting techniques such as bench press, squats, and sprinting. Every offseason I feel I’ve gotten bigger, stronger, and faster but it hasn’t always transferred to my production on the court. This offseason is all about getting better. My only focus is to produce at a high level on the court this season. This summer I am back home in Lexington, KY training with Ted Butler of Operation Athlete. Rather than simply lifting and conditioning, I’m focused on performance training. Each training session focuses on addressing strength, speed, and stamina in basketball specific movements to generate power and explosion. Along with this, I get in the gym and train on the court about six days a week. On the court I’m mostly focused on improving my offensive skill set with my handle, jump shot, and inside finishes. I also try to play 5-on-5 at least three times a week whether playing pick-up with other pros or in pro-am leagues. I like to play 5-on-5 to get a chance to see my training translate into a game setting.
What are you looking forward to the most when you think about playing professionally this upcoming season.
First and foremost, I’m looking forward to actually signing my first professional contract. It will be a dream come true for me. Along with this, I’m eager and excited to begin the grind of being a professional athlete and go through the entire growth process, both as a person and player. I believe embracing the tough grind of my early professional years will help prepare me for the rest of my career and life in general. I’m also very excited to start fresh and craft my game to show its full potential while leading my team in the process. I truly feel like my best basketball is still ahead of me.
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