College Basketball: Williams went after Barnes harder than anyone in his career
By Aaron Beard
CHAPEL HILL ó Roy Williams remembers times when he had a good feeling that a recruit would sign to play for him only to see the player go elsewhere.
His vibe about the much sought-after Harrison Barnes turned out well for North Carolina.
Barnes, a 6-foot-7 swingman widely regarded as the nation’s top recruit, signed with Williams’ Tar Heels program Friday. Barnes choose the defending national champion from six schools that included national powers Kansas and UCLA, along with rival Duke. It ended a 16-month pursuit for Williams, who said he recruited Barnes probably harder than anyone in his career.
“I said right up to the very end I would not have been surprised with any of the six choices, and I really wouldn’t have been,” Williams said Saturday during halftime of the Miami-North Carolina football game at Kenan Stadium. “We worked extremely hard and we’ve got a good product to promote, there’s no question about that. I’d like to think that we’re always going to try to outwork everybody else, but I wouldn’t have been surprised,” had he gone elsewhere.
Barnes announced his decision by contacting Williams through an internet video conference call on a nationally televised broadcast. Williams said assistant coach Steve Robinson and video coordinator Eric Hoots set up the call after request from the Barnes family, but Williams said he didn’t know Barnes’ decision until the call came.
“You have a good feeling when they start talking about the Skype and setting it up, but they could have been doing that for every school,” Williams said. “When he said, ‘I’m going to go over and Skype the coach,’ and then his face showed up on our computer, that’s a pretty good feeling.”
Barnes joins point guard Kendall Marshall and shooting guard Reggie Bullock in the Tar Heels’ recruiting class for next season, which already ranked among the nation’s best even before Barnes’ announcement. The trio should help address a couple of the Tar Heels’ apparent weaknesses: depth at point guard and unproven outside shooting.
As for beating out Duke in the recruiting of Barnes, Williams wouldn’t dwell on it.
“Duke’s going to get good players,” he said. “I don’t worry about Duke and I’m sure that they don’t worry about us. They’re hard to recruit against because they’re so good. … They’re all really good schools. You just want him to say your name, your school and then whoever you beat doesn’t make any difference.”