BASKETBALL

After two years away, Sarah Ashlee Barker back home with Alabama women's basketball

Maxwell Donaldson
The Tuscaloosa News

After spending two years at Georgia, Sarah Ashlee Barker is back home in Alabama and getting ready to start her junior season with Alabama women's basketball.

Barker will make her debut when the Crimson Tide host Alabama A&M on Monday at 5 p.m. (SEC Netowrk+) to start the season. The daughter of former Alabama quarterback Jay Barker and brother of football staff member Braxton Barker, she earned Miss Alabama Basketball honors in her senior season at Spain Park in Hoover.

Barker picked Georgia out of high school over Alabama because she felt a better connection with then-coach Jodi Taylor and wanted to try and carve out her own path. She earned SEC All-Freshman team honors for the 2020-21 season, then started every game last season for the Bulldogs and averaged 7.7 points and 4 rebounds per game.

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After Taylor left Georgia for Texas A&M it left Barker with a choice: Follow her coach, or come back to Alabama and continue a family legacy. She is one of six newcomers for a Crimson Tide program that returns all five starters.

"I love being home and I love being here," Barker said. "It means everything; everyone always talks about you want to rep the front of your chest and the front of my chest is now the state of Alabama. Where I grew up, where I grew up coming to games all the time. It's in my family, my dad played here, my brother is a (graduate assistant) here, it's like a family thing here."

Barker and fifth-year senior Hannah Barber are the only two Alabama natives on the roster and played high school basketball as Class 6A rivals. The duo is ready to show what Alabama is capable of after an NCAA tournament appearance in 2021 and a deep WNIT run in 2022.

Sarah Ashlee Barker (3) goes in for the layup during practice drills for the Alabama women's basketball team this week ahead of Monday's season opener. Barker transferred to Alabama after two seasons at Georgia.

"Being able to play here with Hannah Barber, I played against her in high school so that's been something pretty cool. We always played against each other and represented Birmingham and the state of Alabama and I think it just shows people why not come play for the state of Alabama, why not come and represent your state."

The Crimson Tide were surprised that Barker entered the portal but didn't waste any time in contacting her. It was an easy decision once Barker entered the portal, coach Kristy Curry was looking for players like Barker and knew her well from their previous recruitment.

"Just had such a great relationship with her out of high school," Curry said. "At the end of it we respected her decision and moved forward and she moved forward but I think it was a simple decision because we knew the character we knew the work ethic and we're just excited she's back home."