Rank ‘Em: Top 5 UNC basketball players in the Roy Williams Era

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#5 – Harrison Barnes – 75 Games played (73 started) 16.4 PPG, 5.5 RPG. 2010, 2011 Preseason All-American, 2011 Second Team All-ACC, 2012 First Team All-ACC, 2012 Second Team All-American.

Barnes is the most highly touted recruit Roy Williams has ever brought in since becoming the head coach at UNC. He came in with a lot of hype as a Preseason All-American his freshman year. Some fans at the time didn’t think that Barnes was all he was cracked up to be right away because he hadn’t exploded on the scene. I thought he was just fine, but when a player comes in with the legend of John Henry’s hammer it’s impossible to live up to those expectations. By the end of his freshman year I thought he had emerged as a premier player in college basketball and would leave for the NBA. I especially thought so when he dropped a 40-burger on Clemson in the ACC tournament.

He came back for his sophomore season and continued his stellar play before heading to the NBA where his career has gotten off to a good start. Had Barnes left after his first season in Chapel Hill, he would’ve stayed off this list. He would have been a top five pick in the 2011 draft (or the “he’s got a great wingspan draft) in my opinion, but he stayed in school an extra year and improved his game. I will not be surprised if a few years from now he is a perennial All-Star in the NBA. His stats for Golden State are almost mirror images of what they were in college and he’s shown flashes of the ability to take over games as he’s getting better at creating his own shot.

Prior to this year’s incoming class the argument could be made that Barnes was the last “big name recruit” brought in by Roy Williams. I will always give Barnes credit for not going the “one-and-done” route and returning for that second season. Bringing in the big name instant impact “rentals” isn’t always the best way to build your roster which is a prime example with the next player on this list.