This is Harrison Barnes. If you haven’t heard of him by now, you probably have by now. The consensus top high school recruit in the country chose North Carolina today over Duke, UCLA, Oklahoma and Kansas.
It’ll be a one-and-done, but what a one that might be.
From ESPN.com’s Chad Ford:
If prep players were eligible for the NBA draft this year, Barnes would be a serious contender for the No. 1 spot. In 2011, I think he’s a lock barring some sort of major injury. A number of scouts who have seen him play think he has a Kobe-esque quality to his game. From the tape I’ve seen of him, I understand why they feel that way.
According to ESPN Scouts Inc., Barnes is a good athlete with deceptive speed and quickness off the dribble. He’s likely to play either the No. 2 or No. 3 spot. His offensive game is polished, with a deadly mid-range jumper and step-back fall-away jumper. Overall, on the offensive end, Barnes isn’t flashy, but his efficiency and production are high-level. He’s also expected to be a defensive boost.
“He’s the most complete offensive player in the country,” Scouts Inc.’s national recruiting director, Paul Biancardi, said.
And from me:
Barnes is as polished as Barack Obama, and there were a few clues leading up to his Skype announcement that he would likely be headed to UNC. He’s as smooth an offensive player there is, but he’s also a guy who wants to play 94 feet. Right away, you have to imagine that that eliminated Duke and UCLA. The spread-the-floor, halfcourt style of basketball doesn’t attract kids like Barnes anymore. He knows by going to Chapel Hill that he will get an opportunity to score, and score often. He would’ve had the same opportunity at Kansas.
But listen to the kid. Really listen to him. And then read about him. He’s learning to play golf because he knows it’s the game of business giants. He’s already thinking about what to do with the money he’ll earn — most likely in two years once he declares of the 2011 NBA Draft — and as articulate and poised as he is, when he brings up the academic side of things, you actually believe him. While this probably kept Duke in the running, UNC’s high-ranked business school had to play a big part. At least it’s nice to think so.
One other thing. Barnes’ arrival comes on the day the Heels’ also signed point guard Kendall Marshall. Sure, Duke may have a higher-rated point guard in the same class with Kyrie Irving, but Marshall is considered the best passer in high school in the country. He’s a facilitator, and scorers who run the floor like that. A lot.
And let’s not kid ourselves what sells here. The North Carolina Tar Heels are the New York Yankees of college basketball. The Heels hold the top brand in the sport, have two national titles in the last five years and send player after player into the top 20 of the NBA Draft. The program sells itself, but coach Roy Williams is also the land’s top recruiter. Put those two things together, and it’s easy to see why the Heels are ranked sixth this season — in what is supposed to be a rebuilding year.
The rich definitely got richer today. In fact, the better way to put it may be that the richest got richer.
Now the pressure is on.