Former Weber State University basketball standout Brad Barton, who captained the team during an undefeated season in Big Sky Conference play, passed away on Tuesday in Price, Utah.
Barton suffered from diabetes, which might have led to the cause of his death. Longtime WSU broadcaster Carl Arky said that Barton brought something special to the court every time he played, despite suffering from the disease.
While at WSU, Barton made an impact upon many fans and those associated with the WSU basketball program. After the announcement of his death, numerous messages were left on his Facebook wall by players and fans expressing their thanks and memories of Barton.
“Brad was one of my all-time favorite players,” Arky said. “No one ever hustled more and gave more of himself than Brad. And he did it despite the fact he was diabetic.”
Arky also said that Barton was able to impact people off the court as well by touching the lives of many.
“He was one of the most inspirational players I’ve ever been around,” Arky said. “Battled diabetes, battled on the court, and always had a great attitude about the game . . . and life.”
In 2001, Barton transferred to WSU from Brigham Young University-Hawaii. He played two seasons for the Wildcats and was part of the 2003 team that went undefeated in Big Sky Conference play and qualified for the NCAA National Tournament. He was known for being a gritty, tough player who made up for not being the fastest on the court with intensity and physicality.
In his time playing for the Wildcats, Barton was the team captain his senior season and was a team leader with his tenacious play on both ends of the court. He earned Big Sky All-Conference Honorable Mention honors as a senior in 2002-03. That season, he played in all 32 games, started 11 games and helped lead the Wildcats to a 26-5 overall record, including a perfect 14-0 record in Big Sky play and a trip to the NCAA Tournament.
Former WSU Head Coach Joe Cravens, who coached Barton, said that Barton was a unique person and player who brought something special to the team.
“Brad was kind of a one-in-a-million person and player,” Cravens said. “He was kind of the heart and soul of that team. He wasn’t the star, but he was the guy that kind of made that team go. He was the most competitive, compassionate player I think I’ve coached.”
One of the highlights of Barton’s play career came in a 2001 game against in-state rival Utah State University. Barton capped off a 20-point comeback by hitting a 21-foot jumper at the buzzer to seal a WSU win.
After leaving WSU, Barton was an assistant coach at Snow College before joining the coaching staff at what was then the College of Eastern Utah. As an assistant coach in Price, Barton helped coach the team to a conference tournament and led them to the National Junior College Athletic Association national tournament, where they took third place.
The following year, Barton was named interim head coach of the team. He led them to a 23-7 season and was then named head coach.
Utah State University Eastern Athletic Director Dave Paur said that Barton was a man of strong character and cared a lot for the team he coached. Paur said that last season, Barton put off a surgery because he didn’t want to miss any time with his team.
“He had ruptured his Achilles tendon,” Paur said. “You know how painful that can be. But he refused to get it operated on because he didn’t want to miss any practices. He said, ‘It’s not time. I can’t miss any practices with my team.’”
Funeral services will be held in Ogden at the Dee Events Center on Saturday.