Barthé said his first experience with Javan Felix occurred right before St. Augustine (La.) reopened following Hurricane Katrina. In June 2006, two months before the school was set to reopen, the basketball team got together to practice, to try and help create some buzz or excitement for the program.
Felix was in that first group, as a seventh grader.
"As a seventh grader, we felt like he could play for us that following year,"
Barthé said. "If he was eligible, we could have used him, and used him a lot. After that, every day we expected something new from him. We were wondering who he'd steal the ball from that day. People made the mistake of trying to pass the ball when he was in front of him, and he'd just take it away.
"It was just an amazing summer with him that first summer," Barthé said.
Fast-forward to last season, Felix's junior year, when he was named Class 5A Player of the Year. And he did it by moving off his more comfortable point guard spot.
"We went into the season not having a true two guard. But we had another player who could play the point, so we decided to do some things differently," Barthé said.
That included bumping Felix to the two-guard spot where he gave up his normal ball-handling duties to shoot and score more often.
"We were able to showcase that part of his talent," Barthé said. "It worked out tremendously for us. Because of the things he did, and what we were able to do, we won a state championship."
As a senior, Felix went back to the point after having a conversation with his coach. Barthé said that Felix, who committed early to Texas, told him that he would be fine acting as more of a distributor, both to get teammates more involved and to help them get more publicity.
That also worked from a basketball standpoint, as St. Augustine had an even better regular season, although they fell in the state title game this year.
"We lost, but it wasn't because he didn't try or play well," Barthé said. "He scored in double-figures for us that night trying to get us over the hump."
Barthé said playing two totally different roles in the last two seasons would help Felix at the next level.
"He's one of those players who can get the ball to other kids, but can knock down shots on your as well," Barthé said. "I can't say enough about him."
Barthé said "people had problems dealing with us," because of the number of options that St. Augustine had, and the way that Felix ran the offense.
"Texas people will see that they now have a true point that can facilitate, while also hitting down shots," Barthé said.
But what about Felix's defense? With his lack of size and his average athleticism, some have speculated that he'll struggle to defend at the next level.
"I think that's way overblown," Barthé said. He brings a very good sense of what his limitations are, and he's going to learn to overcome them. He'll do whatever it takes.
"The lack of size thing, to me, is funny," Barthé said. "He's 6-feet tall, and he has the wing span of a kid 6-2 or 6-3. He has long arms and big hands. He can go inside and rebound the ball. And the other piece is that, especially on the high school level, his body type gives players trouble. He has broad shoulders, and it's hard for kids to get around him. I think that's something he's learned to do early on, to defend quicker guards and keep them at bay. I think he'll adapt to that."
Barthé said the offense St. Augustine ran should set him up well at Texas. St. Augustine ran a lot of high-low with single-high screens, with Felix running the pick-and-roll well. Barthé said Felix displayed the ability to do every option well, excelling with his decision-making, knowing whether to get to the basket, shovel the ball off to a rolling big man or pulling up for the shot.
Felix truly emerged last summer, after excelling at a few big events, which Barthé said could account for the reason he might be underrated. But he also said Felix flying under the radar was for other reasons.
"A lot of people thought that basketball in New Orleans was dead after Katrina," Barthé said. "He was one of the first kids to sign on to play on the big stage or at a high level afterward. The kids who have gotten high recognition as big-time players from the New Orleans area weren't in the city. They didn't live past where the flood water starts. And it's about that as much as anything else.
"There's a disconnect there," Barthé said. "Greg Monroe made his name prior to Katrina, so they knew about Greg. But that's all they thought was here. So some schools discounted him. And I'm not sure I want to put it this way, but they're going to pay for that. Some of the schools that flirted with him and used it to recruit other kids, I think they're mistaken. And he's going to show them just how big a mistake they made."
As a person, Barthé called Felix "very mature."
"His parents did a great job with him," Barthé said. "He eats and sleeps basketball. But he's the oldest of four children. He has three little sisters, and he watches over them.
He's very conscious of what other people see him doing," Barthé said. "He's very mature and very thoughtful. He thinks about how he's perceived, and he takes pride in having a good image."
Barthé said Felix was going to fit in well at a school that saw success from two smaller point guards in T.J. Ford and D.J. Augustin. In fact, he said Felix formed a relationship with Augustine in high school from some camps that he did, and that he fit well with how Texas coach Rick Barnes develops his point guards.
"I think some people are going to be very, very surprised by Javan," Barthé said. "I know they have a really good point guard there now. But I think when they see (Felix), they're going to want to use (Myck Kabongo) and Javan together.
"I don't know totally how (Barnes) plans to use them, but when practice starts, I think that will definitely cross his mind," Barthé said. "It will be hard to keep Javan off the floor."