Harrison Barnes can’t control the expectations
By: Michael Visenberg
As the consensus top ranked player in the high school class of 2010, Harrison Barnes had a great deal to live up to. The Iowa born Barnes was undefeated during his last season at Ames High School, also excelling in post-season All-Star contests such as the McDonald’s All-American Game, Nike Hoop Summit and Jordan Brand Classic. He was given the expectation of carrying North Carolina as soon as he stepped on campus, the first freshman ever to garner preseason All-American honors. Most observers would have expected an early exit and Barnes was seen as the odds on favorite for #1 pick in the 2011 Draft.
Flash forward to current day and it seems expectations for Mr. Barnes were pretty unfair. He more than likely would have been a top 5 Draft pick last year, still has a possibility of falling in that range this year. The thing is, Barnes was being compared to Kobe Bryant, given expectations of carrying North Carolina to a championship level and seen as an almost can’t miss top 3 Draft selection any year he declared. Barnes had a solid college career, just never really reached the level that many had projected with such certainty.
In the end, this is not Harrison Barnes fault. Other freshman had adjusted seamlessly to the NCAA, Barnes took a little more time. It was just unfortunate that due to the success of other past freshmen, Barnes was given the All-American distinction before he had put on a UNC uniform. Harrison seems to have a fantastic head on his shoulders, his shooting mechanics are excellent and he has ideal size for the wing. With all of this being said, he lacked the ability to create much off of the dribble and had well noted difficulties without floor general Kendall Marshall at the helm for the Tar Heels. These seemed to not really be properly addressed when Barnes was given the Kobe comparison.
When Barnes came back for his sophomore season, it was again assumed he had a legitimate shot at the top pick. As the season wore on and Anthony Davis ascended to the top spot, Barnes Mock placement was a roller coaster ride. It is almost reminiscent of the 2006 Draft, when Rudy Gay went from being the assumed #1 pick and than falling to #8. Barnes has a chance to go as high as #2 to Charlotte, but his floor might be the Raptors #8 spot. There are many teams in need of help on the wing and Barnes is a sure scorer and a noted hard worker. Now that his expectations are more in check and the initial pressure has died down, Barnes will be in a much better spot than he was in college. I expect Barnes to be a valuable scorer at the 3, might not be glamorous, but realistic. Think he definitely deserves a chance to surpass expectations.