By Josh Frydman
MEMPHIS, TN (WMC-TV) - While Will Barton steals most of the headlines for the Memphis Tigers, he's not the only Barton stepping up his game for the Tigers.
Antonio Barton said he would hear the whispers, but he knew better than to really listen.
"I just let it motivate me to come out and prove everybody wrong," said Antonio Barton. "I never let it affect me in a negative way or listen to anything."
The sophomore guard was pegged as a throw-in, riding the coattails of his 5-star recruit brother to Memphis. Antonio Barton never believed he stood in his older brother's shadow.
"From the outside looking in, may look like that, but to me, we know the situation between us," he said. "We're brothers. We love each other. We're the most close knit brothers you'll ever see."
Separated by just 11 months, the Bartons are each other's biggest fans.
While Will Barton leads Conference USA in scoring, Antonio Barton has made his own mark. Since stepping into the lineup on December 29, he has averaged 8 points per game while shooting 52 percent from three-point range.
Antonio Barton's stability at the point has helped the Tigers go 9-1 since.
"I did feel I needed to prove to a lot of people what I can do and what I can bring to the team," said Antonio Barton.
"People are starting to see that he's a big time player," said Will Barton. "He wasn't no throw-in. He's producing."
"I have a tough game," said Antonio Barton. "I take no prisoners, and I just play with an attitude."
Part of his toughness can be traced back to his childhood. Their single mother raised Will and Antonio Barton and their sisters in Baltimore.
"It was hard growing up," said Antonio Barton. "We didn't have a lot of stuff that other kids had, but basketball brought that pride and that light to the family."
Antonio Barton had no choice but to become a man while still a teen, when his daughter was born two years ago.
"I love her," he said. "Had to grow up quick. Had another responsibility, my daughter, and I had to provide for her even while I'm in school."
Antonio Barton said becoming a father helped motivate him to choose the right path in life.
"I had to sit myself down and say ... do I want to be an athlete or a street guy, and a street guy isn't always promising," he said. "A lot of people die, end up in jail, and I can't end up like that because I have a daughter. I don't want her seeing me dead or in jail or growing up without a father."
Antonio Barton's daughter lives with his mother in Baltimore. Will Barton said he sometimes cannot believe his brother is a father, but said it is a beautiful thing to see.
Copyright 2012 WMC-TV. All rights reserved.