Auburn player, Manchester native, memorialized after drowning - WTVM.com-Columbus, GA News Weather & Sports

Auburn player, Manchester native, memorialized after drowning death

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MANCHESTER, GA (WTVM) -

The career of an Auburn basketball standout has come to an end with his untimely death. Korvotney Barber's apparent drowning off the Florida coast occurs in between seasons of playing professionally in Europe. 

Barber's high school coach, Curtis Noble, is grieving along with his entire hometown of Manchester, Georgia.  Noble remembers telling a young Korvotney Barber that he had the talent to someday be a professional, and soon, coaches from the rest of the country were in agreement.

"It's a amazing that a young kid from a small town could start out so small, and end up worldwide," said Noble. 

Everything changed when Noble flew Barber to play in an exhibition game in Houston Texas, attended by high profile scouts.

From that day forward, Coach Noble's phone was ringing off the hook with calls from colleges looking to recruit him.

"Even in high school, walking around the school, presenting himself as a young man following the rules, you would think that with all the publicity that his head would have gotten big.  But he stayed humble the whole time around Manchester," said Noble. 

In between semesters at Auburn, Barber made sure to stay in touch with the people from his hometown. He chose the school because of its location within driving distance of his family.

"Korvotney was a kid who, when he came back for the summer, he would come to the school and talk with the kids.  He would love to be at the gym, those kinds of things.  He just made himself available to his friends," said Noble.

This news of Barber's drowning death near Panama City this past weekend hit Coach Noble hard. 

"Korvotney and I had a relationship of a father and son and it really took a toll on me.  Right now, I'm still trying to work through it," said Noble, "You don't want to believe it.  You're in self-denial, you just really want to be able to get the facts, you want to be able to see for yourself that it has happened.

Barber was 26 when he died.  He is one of three tourists to have drowned in the unusually rough sea waters this past weekend.  His friends last saw him Saturday evening. Barber's body was discovered washed upon the shore by Sunday afternoon.

A funeral is scheduled for this Saturday on the floor of the basketball court where he used to play sell out games in Manchester.  On Wednesday, hundreds are expected to attend a candlelight vigil in front of Manchester High School starting at 8:30 p.m.

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