UNC Basketball: Harrison Barnes A Little Too Much Like Lebron


Coming into this season Harrison Barnes was once again crowned preseason All American.  On everybody’s list for potential National Player of the Year accolades, Barnes was considered a sure thing.  And while he still may be, he doesn’t look like a player that can seriously contend for NPOY just yet.  Barnes started slow last season also, in fact, he struggled with his game early in his freshman season.

Harrison is known for his hard work off the court.  Roy Williams has been quoted as saying he’s works as hard as any player he’s ever had save Tyler Hansbrough.  Barnes focused on improving his ball handling and penetration skills the most this off season.  Last year the knock on Barnes was that he settled for his jump shot too often.  Credit Barnes for changing that this year where he is shooting less threes and he’s hitting them at a much higher percentage (44.2 vs 34.4%).  Barnes has also raised his overall shooting percentage by 5.5% (47.6 from 42.1% last year).  And yes, technically Barnes is scoring more this season also where he’s averaging 16.7 points per game up from 15.6 in his freshman campaign.

Barnes has good numbers, he’s also suffering from a little bit of Lebron James disease (but not the kind your thinking of), more after the break

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Lebron James suffers from a few things so let’s isolate what I’m talking about first.  To be clear I’m not talking about having an egotistical attitude.  And I’m not talking about choking at the end of every important game.  In fact what I’m talking about is the other Lebron thing, the thing they talked about way back when he was in Cleveland.

Like James, Barnes doesn’t always assert himself like he should early in games.  He doesn’t act like the superstar of the team the way he should.  James with his huge frame and great passing skills is satisfied dominating the game as it comes to him.  Lebron can control a game with his passing while leading the everybody on the court in rebounds without breaking a sweat.  Barnes on the other hand, needs to put the ball in the basket.  Averaging just 4.7 rebounds per game, down from 5.8 last season, Barnes is hardly a force on the boards.  Passing may be the weakest part of Harrison’s game where he sometimes goes a game or two without an assist, he only averages 1 per game this year, down from an already low 1.4 last year.

Last season a few things happened that ignited the Tar Heel offense and propelled them back into the race for the national title.  One was the blowout loss to Georgia Tech, after that, UNC was lights out finishing the season 14-2.  Then there was the insertion of Kendall Marshall (which took way too long) into the starting lineup and the transfer of Larry Drew III.  Marshall instantly took the team back to their up tempo running ways and his passing skills boosted the half court offense enough to make up for his defensive lapses.

And finally, the maturation and late game domination of Mr.Barnes.  It was a perfect storm for UNC, they had a new quarterback on the court, a new attitude after getting stomped by GT.  And a new superstar to rely on to fill up the box score and carry them at the end of games when they needed him to lead.  Well, the blowouts out of the way, the Heels definitely don’t need a new point guard this year.  Your up Harrison.

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Harrison Barnes Stat Summary: