NEW YORK - APRIL 17: Kyrie Irving #1 and Harrison Barnes #40 pose after the National Game at the 2010 Jordan Brand classic at Madison Square Garden on April 17, 2010 in New York City. (Photo by Larry Busacca/Getty Images for Jordan Brand Classic)
While I'm the first person to admit that I don't really watch college basketball much I've generated an opinion on Harrison Barnes mostly from things I'd read over his time at North Carolina. Generally over time the national thoughts on Barnes have gotten progressively worse. I'd been debating writing a column on a few reasons why I'd avoid Barnes and UConn's Andre Drummond but I actually found something on Grantland.com today that just blows what I could have done out of the water.
Jay Caspian King shares with us the "brand" that Barnes has been trying to build and how his name is so much bigger than his actual game suggests.
Check out a small excerpt from King's wonderful piece on Barnes after the jump. For the full piece though, click right here.
It's easy to blame all this weird, precocious ugliness as well as Barnes's basketball troubles on the "fast-paced media," high school recruiting, and big-time college athletics, but the somewhat liberating truth is that Harrison Barnes just wasn't a great basketball player. He was good, sure, and shot the ball with a confidence that went far beyond his youth, but he never really developed any other part of his game. He'd go crashing into the boards and pull down a jaw-dropping rebound, but then he'd follow that with 10 minutes of standing around on defense. He never figured out how to get to the basket. He never found a way to reliably distribute the ball in transition. Instead, Barnes's improvements were the sort that could be easily dispensed through the media. He put on 15 pounds of muscle between his freshman and sophomore years. He "committed himself to defense." He "came back to win a national championship." He did everything he could do to build the perception that he was competing the right way. But he did not really improve as a basketball player. Before Kendall Marshall, the most gifted passer in college basketball, came along, Barnes was pretty much the player he was this past Friday and Sunday. It's not entirely fair to judge Barnes in two games without his point guard, but it's particularly damning that a lottery-bound perimeter scorer couldn't create his own shot against the mighty Ohio Bobcats. On Sunday, in the biggest game of his career, Barnes missed his last six shots and looked lost when the game was on the line.