Harrison Barnes crushed Clemson, it wasn’t just the 24 points. We’ve seen him do that plenty of times before, a few this season. It wasn’t that he connected on a three shots from beyond the arc. It was the way he did it, the look in his eye, the way Barnes carried himself that spoke to me. It was like Barnes said out loud to everyone “This is why I was pre-season All-American”. The way he played defense, the way he attacked the boards.
Barnes had his entire game working, spot up jumper-bang, curl around a pick for a three-bottom of the net. He demanded the ball when he had a big size advantage. He took the shot each time Clemson went on a run and sliced the lead below the comfort level. Harrison Barnes acted like what many, including I thought he would be all along. He’s got the look of the player who played so well the end of his freshman season.
Only this time around I’m more excited about Harrison’s game. While I’ve been waiting all season for Barnes to take that extra step in his game. One can’t deny his new found versatility and efficiency in his game this year. Barnes worked hard on his ball handling skills and placed a greater emphasis on getting higher percentage shots this season. Again picked as a pre-season Naismith finalist Barnes improved his game, but up until this point has yet to put it all together and explode.
In my opinion it’s absolutely an attitude with Barnes. Just as Dexter Strickland went down and the Heels needed him to step up his perimeter defense, he did. Right after Roy Williams made a small comment that he’d like to see Harrison rebound more, he went on a mission and hit the boards. Maybe it’s the time of year, or maybe it’s all coming together for Barnes at the right time. I try and stay out of the bold predictions game. But I feel very strongly that I saw the fire in Barnes eyes today and I don’t see it burning out the rest of the season. I think we’re ready to see Harrison Barnes take his game to the next level.