PANAMA CITY BEACH - A former Auburn basketball star drowned in Panama City Beach.
Panama City Beach police found the body of 26-year-old Korvotney Barber about 4:00 p.m. near the Boardwalk Beach Resort.
Police responded to Pineapple Willy’s around 7:00 Saturday night for three swimmers in distress. Two of the three made it out of the water before officers arrived.
Beach police, the Coast Guard, Florida Fish and Wildlife all started searching for Barber. Police also called the Bay County Sheriff’s which responded with their helicopter to search from the air.
The Beach Police Marine Unit and Sheriff's Office helicopter continued the search on Sunday morning. Police finally recovered Barber’s body around 4:00 p.m. when it washed up between the Boardwalk Beach Resort and the Top of the Gulf Condominiums.
The body was turned over to the Medical Examiner’s Office to determine the cause of death.
Barber, from Manchester, Georgia, was a McDonald's High School All-American. He played four seasons (2005-2009) at Auburn. In his senior year, Barber earned All-SEC second-team honors and was named to the All-SEC Tournament team.
Barber played for coach Jeff Lebo, but recently met new Tiger coach Tony Barbee.
"The Auburn basketball program is deeply saddened to lose one its great players in Korvotney 'Vot’ Barber,” said Auburn coach Tony Barbee. "I was fortunate enough to meet Vot just last week when he stopped by my office to introduce himself to me. What an impressive guy. Our prayers are with his family and loved ones."
Auburn Athletics Director Jay Jacobs sent the following tweets after hearing about Barber’s death.
In a written statement, released by the Auburn Athletics Department, Jacobs said "We are deeply saddened to learn of the devastatingly tragic and untimely death of Korvotney Barber. The Auburn Family remembers Vot as a relentless competitor with the heart of a champion. More importantly, those who knew him best remember him as a caring father who deeply loved his children and his family. Korvotney's family and friends will remain in our thoughts and prayers during this profoundly sad time."
Barber played three seasons in Europe for teams in France, Turkey and Switzerland.
Lugano (Switzerland) Tigers president, Alexander Cedraschi, called Barber's death a shock.
"He was a serious guy, always available," Cedraschi said. "He thought of his family who had been in America. He was here to work to meet the needs of their children. He was a really good person, as well as a great professional. I was glad to have known him.
"He was a really good guy. No matter what the sport, it is always a painful thing to lose someone like that."
Barber is one of two people from Georgia to drown Saturday.
Tony Underwood, Jr. from Rex, Georgia, and another swimmer were using flotation devices when they got into trouble about 6:00 p.m. near the Chateau Motel (12525 Front Beach Road). The other swimmer made it back to shore. Underwood lost his grip and got caught in the undertow. His body was found about 5 hours later, next to the county pier.
Double red flags were flying, which means dangerous surf conditions exist and the water is closed to swimmers.