Friday, March 30, 2012

My Take on Harrison Barnes

It is the Final Four, but with Harrison Barnes, John Henson, and Kendall Marshall all declaring for the draft I thought I would give my opinion on Barnes.  First let me say as an anti-UNC fan I love that he is going pro, but as a college basketball and NBA fan, I am disappointed.  Barnes is one of the most talented guys in college basketball, hence why Chad Ford of has him going in the top 10 of every mock draft he does.  But to me there is so much more than that.

Harrison Barnes is a guy who to me suffers from the same thing LeBron James does, except for that whole destroying a city on national TV thing.  As a fan, we see these guys and all their talent and think, man I wish they played with more passion and desire.  You then look at someone like Michael Kidd-Gilchrist and can’t help but imagine Barnes playing like him, with the passion, desire to win, and just to play the game with a reckless abandon.  But some guys aren’t wired like that; it’s just unfortunate they aren’t.

Part of me wonders whether the hype of him coming into college had something to do with it.  If college basketball writers didn’t name him a preseason First Team All-American as a freshman, would he be in a better position than he is now?  Who knows, really?  I remember when he was in high school and he had a typical signing day for an elite athlete (that is if you consider a typical signing day to include being on national TV), but then he wanted to be a little different, a little unique, so he Skyped in Coach Roy Williams to declare he would play for UNC.  As I would later learn, this was probably based on bad advice, because watching Barnes in college I realized he’s just a guy who seems like he just wants to fit in, rather than stand out.

You look at Barnes’ numbers this year and you see 17.1 points a game, 5.2 rebounds a game on a team that went 32-6.  You see that and you think wow, this kid is special.  Which is true, he is special, which is why I demand even more out of him.  In the game against Kansas in the Elite 8, the Tar Heels' offense went cold against the zone in the final 5 minutes, making two of their final 13 shots, including eight straight misses to end the game.  If you are truly that special, you take over the game and you don’t allow that kind of thing  to happen, Barnes went 0-3 from the floor in those final minutes and scored 1 point.  That is what kills me, because he has the ability to demand the ball, get to the rim, get fouled and take control of the game, but he just doesn’t. 

By all accounts, he is a great kid that works really hard, but maybe that is also his downfall, he’s too nice.  Maybe he will figure this out in the NBA.  But a lasting image of LeBron passing out of late game shots always comes back to me as a comparison for Barnes.  I hope I’m wrong.


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