There was a time McPherson High senior standout Janae Barnes was contemplating life without basketball.

There was a time McPherson High senior standout Janae Barnes was contemplating life without basketball.
The six-foot forward for the Bullpups only started playing the sport in her eighth grade year and, after a slow start her freshman year, contemplated not playing her sophomore year to focus instead on volleyball, which she, at the time, considered to be her better sport.
A conversation with former Bullpup star Katelyn Loecker changed not only Barnes’ mind, but her future path, as Barnes signed a letter of intent Monday to Johnson County Community College not for volleyball, but for basketball.
“I was going to quit after my freshman year,” Barnes said. “That’s when I met Katelyn and she pushed me harder to play my sophomore year. That year I was sixth man and junior year I started, then started this year. I’m glad I stuck with it, but I never thought I would go to college to play basketball.”
Her commitment to improve herself on the court paid dividends each of the last three years. Her sophomore year, the year she was the first off the bench for head coach Chris Strathman, the Bullpups won a Class 4A state championship. She has been named to the AVCTL second team and was named to the All-State honorable mention team by the Wichita Eagle among her post-season honors.
“She’s come a long ways in the four years she was with us,” Strathman said of Barnes. “Just real proud of her for the progress that she’s made. She’s just athletic enough that she provides a much tougher matchup than some people can. Dragging bigger posts out onto the floor and she can get around them at times, and especially get around them to go get offensive rebounds. She’s very active and a good athlete.”
Barnes will be joining a very strong Cavaliers team coached by Ben Conrad, who just completed his sixth year at JCCC, leading the Cavs to their fourth Jayhawk Conference title after posting a 30-2 overall record.
Johnson County made it into the field of the NJCCAA tournament, but lost a heartbreaker in the Region VI finals round to Highland Community College 54-52.
While she is expected to help make an impact for the Cavaliers this coming fall, Barnes was humble about her high school success.
“I honestly didn’t even think I would be starting my junior and senior years,” Barnes said. “So, [playing collegiate basketball] it’s kind of a big surprise to me.”
Barnes is the daughter of Johnnie and Janell Barnes. She plans to major in special education.

Contact Chris Swick by email at and follow him on Twitter @SwickSentinel.