Feature: UNC Basketball Player by Player Review: Harrison Barnes


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In our  eighth edition of Player by Player Review I’ll take a look at Harrison Barnes the Tar Heels sophomore forward. Over the next week or so I’ll take a look at the rest of the UNC roster from top to bottom. What the team needs from each player, who will deliver and how each player fits into the team.  For the first seven parts of the series click HERE

When I originally decided to run this series on each player I wanted to save Harrison Barnes for last.  Sorry I couldn’t wait to gawk about this future NBA superstar.  What’s not to love about this kid?  He chooses UNC after being recruited by literally everyone eventually coming down to Duke vs. UNC with Barnes choosing the lighter, right shade of blue, gotta love it.

Not only that but upon his arrival after being the first ever freshman to be named to the preseason All American team he declared he wasn’t necessarily a one and done player.  In fact one of the main reasons he chose UNC was the academic program that would allow him to graduate in three years, something that is very important to Barnes and his family.

So how can that be topped right?  It can’t, right?  Wrong!  Almost from the day he arrived at Chapel Hill everyone including coach Roy Williams were raving about his work ethic.  Roy even went as far as to say he’s the hardest worker besides for Tyler Hansbrough he’s ever seen, adding that Tyler was probably a one of a kind player who’s passion and work ethic may never again be seen.  Strong words that were obviously flattering but probably did nothing other than add to his overblown, impossible to achieve expectations as an incoming freshman. 

After a slow start to his freshman season, followed by a big turnaround how will Barnes respond this season?  Find out after the jump While many of the Heels rotation has yet to be set a couple of players including Harrison Barnes have defined roles that as close to set in stone as you are going to get on a Roy Williams team.  Barnes is the star of the team, the player they will turn to when they need a surge of points to comeback in a tight game, the guy they give the ball to when they need a shot to win a ballgame.  In other words he’s their “it” player this year.  While others like Tyler Zeller, Kendall Marshall, and John Henson among others are immensly talented and could well end up on an All American or at least All ACC team themselves, Barnes is a cut above the rest.

Last season Barnes looked tentative early, reluctant to attack the basket, settling for far too many outside jump shots.  Barnes made ball handling and penetrating the basketball to create his own shot a priority this off season.  He worked relentlessly, his roommate Kendall Marshall explained this off season that he wakes up everyday to Barnes alarm clock at the crack of dawn everyday.

It’s early in the season and not too many conclusions can be or should be drawn from the small sample we have received but Barnes looks like an improved player all ready.  The All American and Player of the Year talk seems very legitimate this year.  Harrison has learned to use his superior talent to get to the basket, he moves better without the basketball, shoots less outside shots, he’s doing the little things better every game.

Barnes seems to understand that he needs to continue to be an outside shooter and a good one for this team to take pressure off the big men down low in the paint.  He hasn’t stopped shooting three pointers, and he shouldn’t, Barnes is a good shooter.  His shot selection is what’s really improved.  He’s getting into the paint far more frequently evident in his 7.1 free throw attempts per game average vs less than 4 last season.  The three pointers you are seeing him jack up this year are good, open looks and he’s shooting them with much more confidence this season.

No matter how talented a team is in any sport on almost any level they need that superstar to take them over the top if they want to win a championship.  Barnes is that player for UNC, and they need him to be very good every single night, great on most nights.  Barnes will be an All American, he’s too talented and too polished of a player not to receive that honor.  I believe it will come down to Barnes and Ohio St’s Jared Sullinger for the POY award with Barnes winning due to the Heels being the dominate team in college basketball.

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Duke is puke…Wake is fake..The team I hate is NC State..You can’t go to heaven in a Red canoe…Cause God’s favorite color is Carolina Blue!!!!