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SSS pioneer honored at Hall of Fame ceremony

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WENDELL — Basketball has been the foundation for Reggie Barnes’ life, and on Saturday at the 13th annual Johnston County Athletic Hall of Fame ceremony, it all built into him becoming a hall of famer.

“It’s truly a privilege,” Barnes said. “It’s always an honor when others can recognize you. I look at this as a huge honor because I’m from this area, was born and raised, and set an example for others.”

As a basketball star for Smithfield-Selma from 1982-85, Barnes scored over 1,300 points — and Barnes said it would have been 2,000 if they had the 3-pointer. Current SSS basketball coach and athletic director Matt Cuddington said in order to change the program’s culture, they must reach back to the greats.

“He’s one of the best to come out of SSS,” Cuddington said. “For all sports, the more we can get a lot of the old heads that graduated from SSS and give back, if you really want to change the culture, that’s what you have to do. Before you move forward, you got to remember the past and embrace it. Get some of those past people that graduated from there, like Reggie who had such a great impact on SSS, to come back and support.”

Barnes said he was a 6-foot-4 guard when guys his height were told to play in the post, but he was built different. Barnes went on to become the first Spartan to play NCAA Division I basketball at UNC Charlotte where he started as a freshman and played in more than 100 games, including the NCAA tournament in 1988.

“Some people may not understand this but it was a part of the dream — I was groomed early,” Barnes said. “I was the one that was passed the mantle to take it to that level. The biggest accomplishments for me was starting as a freshman in college and just hearing my name and 6-4 guard out of Selma, North Carolina, was the biggest honor because I was representing my community.”

The pioneer from Selma graduated from UNCC in 1989 and used the education basketball gave him to give back to people who needed help. Barnes started three different businesses and a nonprofit. Barnes’s nonprofit, Realtime Hope, has given thousands of dollars to students in Johnston County for scholarships and has completed several mission trips internationally, including building a basketball court in the Dominican Republic. Barnes said he hopes to work with Cuddington to give back to SSS as well.