ACC Basketball: Barnes picks UNC over Duke
By Luke Meredith
AMES, Iowa ó As the college basketball world waited breathlessly, Iowa prep phenom Harrison Barnes dialed into a video conference with his future coach.
No one but Barnes, his mother and his little sister knew who would be on the other line Friday ó until beaming North Carolina coach Roy Williams appeared on a screen positioned next to a hastily assembled podium.
“All right!” Williams said.
All right indeed, for the Tarheels. Not so great for Duke, Kansas, Oklahoma, UCLA and his hometown school, Iowa State.
Barnes, a 6-foot-7 swingman from Ames widely regarded as the top player in the Class of 2010, announced Friday that he would play for North Carolina.
Barnes made the announcement before hundreds of students and onlookers ó many of whom were decked out in Iowa State gear ó in the gym at Ames High School. Even though the crowd was decidedly pro-Iowa State, Barnes got a rousing ovation when he broke the news to Williams and the Tar Heels, who were huddled around a video phone awaiting his decision.
“We developed a lot of trust in our relationship,” Barnes said of Williams. “It was great to see how, even though we developed that relationship, he didn’t get comfortable with that. He still kept coming to see me. He still kept calling me. He really put in the time and effort.”
Barnes said he chose North Carolina both because of his relationship with Williams and the school’s academics. Barnes had long said he was looking for a program with a strong business school. He said he plans to study business at North Carolina and graduate in just three years.
“I think he’s a great teacher of the game. But more than that, I liked the academic plan they had for me,” Barnes said.
Barnes led Ames to a 26-0 record and a state title last winter, but made a name for himself nationally with impressive performances on the summer circuit. He’s been an athletic wing player with a strong jump shot, a high basketball IQ and the ability to defend multiple positions.
Barnes wouldn’t say whether he’ll play shooting guard or small forward for North Carolina, but odds are the Tarheels will find somewhere to play him.
“I’ll play whatever gets me on the floor,” Barnes said. “I think it’s just good to be versatile.”
Barnes’ signing is yet another coup for Williams involving Iowa prep standouts. He signed Iowans Nick Collison, Raef LaFrentz and Kirk Hinrich while at Kansas.
But Barnes is arguably the highest-rated of those prospects.
He plays with Iowa State coach Greg McDermott’s son, Doug, at Ames High, his mother, Shirley Barnes, works for the university and he’s often seen at Hilton Coliseum during games.
That left many in central Iowa hoping that Barnes might pick the Cyclones, who haven’t made the NCAA tournament in four seasons and could surely have used the multitalented Barnes.
Instead, Barnes joins Reggie Bullock of Kinston, N.C., and Virginia product Kendall Marshall in North Carolina’s latest haul of top-rated recruits.
“HB is a great kid….I wish him well. I am disappointed just like our fans. Time to focus on a group of guys that love Iowa State!” McDermott posted on Twitter shortly after Barnes’ announcement.
Barnes said it was a relief to finally end the recruiting process, but added that he isn’t ready to get too comfortable. After all, Ames High starts practice Monday and he’s expected to lead the Little Cyclones to another state title.
“He’s living his dream,” Shirley Barnes said. “This is his dream.”
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