Sports reporter

Todd Hefferman has covered SIU athletics since 2008. A University of Iowa grad, he is a member of the U.S. Basketball Writers Association and a Heisman Trophy voter.

SALUKI WAY ATHLETICS

Fans and alumni fill the stands at a football game at Saluki Stadium.

The Southern File Photo

Carbondale native Bruce Barron, in town last weekend to play two games with his Dallas Hoyas, says the Southern Illinois Pharaohs are better than he thought.

The Pharaohs held Barron, a 6-foot-5 guard that was the MVP of the North American Basketball League last season, to 10 points in a 90-74 win Saturday at Giant City Middle School. Southern Illinois (4-0) has won three of its four games in Carbondale and has a deeper frontcourt than most teams in the second-year NABL.

Not bad for Barron's brother, Justin Dentmon, a guard, who founded the team this year.

"They're tough. They're pretty good," Barron said. "They remind me of the Atlanta Show, they won the championship last year in the league. They remind me of them a lot, as far as being strong, playing together, and just having fun. They're putting something together that's special, so, I like people supporting my brother. That's a good thing."

Devon Baulkman, a 6-4 guard that's scored 20 or more points in almost every game this season for the Pharaohs, had 23 and seven rebounds against last year's Western Conference champions. Forwards Chris Bryant (17 points) and Vernon Lewis (14) also got into double figures, along with starting point guard Rakeem Dickerson (16 points).

Barron, 24, averaged 27 points, nine assists and eight rebounds a game for the Hoyas last season. Dallas won the Western Conference and lost to the Atlanta Show, who went a perfect 15-0, in the NABL finals. The Show are off to a 3-0 start this season.

After playing at Brehm Prep in Carbondale, Barron signed with Oregon as one of the top-rated point guards in the country but left after only five games in 2011. He transferred to a Division II program, Cameron University in Oklahoma, where he started nine of 20 games. Barron averaged 7.5 points per game and had 19 steals, but left because school wasn't for him, he said.

"This is my 9-5," Barron said before Sunday's game against the Music City Kings. "I sleep, I eat, I breathe basketball."

He now lives in Dallas, and hopes to pursue a professional career overseas. He had an opportunity to join Dentmon in Turkey last December, he said, but not on the same team. A late passport ended that opportunity, but now that he has it, he said he may pursue a chance to play in Puerto Rico this year.

The Hoyas (3-2) host the San Antonio Lions (3-1) on Saturday. The Pharaohs play at the Huntsville (Alabama) Force (2-3) on Sunday.

Donors up eight percent on SASF: Donations to the Saluki Athletic Scholarship Fund (SASF) were up almost eight percent from last season, SIU athletic director Tommy Bell said in his monthly newsletter on Sunday.

The fund helps alleviate the cost of scholarships to the athletic department. Donors can earn priority access to premium seats for football and men's basketball, priority parking, and the option to buy postseason tickets, depending on level of giving. Bell is pushing for $1 million in donations to the fund this year.

TODD HEFFERMAN covers SIU athletics for The Southern Illinoisan. Contact him at todd.hefferman@thesouthern.com, 618-351-5087 or on Twitter at @THefferman.

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