Tommy Barker is the only person born in raised in the Rio Grande Valley to play in the National Basketball Association. He is also the best high school basketball player the Valley has ever seen.
Tommy was a force that nobody could reckon with during his high school days at Weslaco High. He was 6-foot-10 as a junior for the Panthers, averaging 25 points per game. As a senior, he was an inch taller and averaged 32 points a game. He earned All-State honors both seasons.
He played collegiately at The University of Minnesota as a freshman, at the University of Southern Idaho as a sophomore, and at the University of Hawaii for his junior and senior seasons.
He was taken in the fourth round of the 1976 NBA Draft by Atlanta, and played 59 games for the Hawks in 1976-77, averaging 8.1 points and 6.8 rebounds a game. Some teammates on those teams included Nate Archibald, Jo Jo White, Bob McAdoo, Dave Cowens, Rick Barry, Mike Dunleavy, Calvin Murphy, Moses Malone, Rudy Tomjanovich, Robert Reid, Earl “The Pearl” Monroe, Michael Ray Richardson, and Spencer Haywood. He left the Hawks after one season and played in the CBA in 1977-78. Tommy rejoined the NBA in 1978-79, playing with three teams – the New York Knicks, the Boston Celtics and Houston Rockets. After 22 games with the Knicks, Barker left to play in Holland. In 1981 his rights were traded to the Portland Trailblazers, although he never reported there.
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