While a day or so ago I spoke about Kendall Marshall and his chances at the next level, in today’s post I will talk about the other former UNC sophomore headed into the NBA Draft: small forward Harrison Barnes. If I had to summarize the young man’s career at Chapel Hill in one sentence it would go something like… “great talent that just did not live up to all the hype around him”. As a freshman he came in as a pre-season All-American and while when it was all said and done in the first year under head coach Roy Williams he did become a good scorer he never came close to meeting that hefty goal that was laid on his shoulders. As a sophomore he scored 17.1 points per game but was never the star so many, both in the media and in the fan base, thought he could be while donning the carolina blue.
Going into the National Basketball Association I am sure that the 6’8″/230 lbs forward has some of the scouts wondering if he will ever be able to achieve the expectations that so many had for him. On the other hand there is no denying how good he can be, with a solid build and set skills on both side of the ball. Barnes might never be compared to some of the best as he was in high school, but there is no way that his talents won’t shine in the NBA, from being able to score anywhere on the floor to being able to guard most anyone on defense. When you speak of this sophomore player you have to say that he has the potential to be the total package, maybe not as highly ranked as previously thought of, but still the total deal. The most evident of things that needs to be added to his repertoire is driving to the basket, which might also lead to him passing more as defenses close on him and the wing player is open.
For me the biggest key for Harrison Barnes is going to a team where he does not have to be the top dog. Which means avoiding going to the Bobcats and falling to either #4 Cavaliers, where he would join his buddy Kyrie Irving along with some other talented players, or one step below to the Kings. Both these teams could use a small forward for the future and both have talent on their rosters. My choice would be to Cleveland, where with his commitment to hard work and dedication to the game, the young man might just make the fan base forgot about some guy named James.
For an old Heel like myself watching Harrison Barnes at the next level will be a sour sweet taste. Sweet because I will see an amazing young man mature and become as good as we thought he could have been while playing at the Dean Dome. Sour because I will see that in his two seasons under coach Williams the forward did not understand what type of player he could truly be. Will the young man out of Iowa ever be an All-Star? My thought is yes, but most likely not one that will be there year in, year out. What he will be is a player/team mate that in the right system can give you from 15 to 20 points per game while playing good solid defense. And those two things alone should give Harrison Barnes a decade (if not longer) in the National Basketball Association. All the rest will be gravy, both for himself and the team that takes him this Thursday night.