Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Harrison Barnes Returning to Chapel Hill






If, like me, you are a fan of a NBA team that is in the lottery for the NBA Draft this June, you’re going to want your team to get one of the top 2 picks. Reason being, after the first two players’ (Kyrie Irving and Derrick Williams…pretty much a lock) the impact players are hard to come by. The guy who could have made the impact players “duo” a “trio” in this year’s draft announced April 18th that he would be returning to school.



Harrison Barnes took more time in his announcement to the basketball world than his teammates Tyler Zeller and John Henson did. All 3 had high first round draft outlooks and now all 3 will be returning to Chapel Hill. With Barnes being predicted to be taken in the top 3, he by far was the most likely to jump to the NBA. In the end though, the draw of a possible championship run combined with a run at Player of the Year at UNC was greater than the draw of instant millions as a top 3 pick. UNC now will be voted, by most, as the preseason #1 and favorite to win it all and Barnes voted as a Preseason Player of the Year candidate for the ACC and NCAA.



In a previous post, we predicted (way too early) the NCAA preseason top 10; this announcement will not change my predictions at all:



1. UNC

2. Ohio State

3. Duke

4. Texas

5. Kentucky

6. Syracuse

7. Memphis

8. Louisville

9. Michigan

10. Cincinnati



Predicted Final Four – Duke, Louisville, UNC and Michigan



Predicted Champion – UNC



Possible Issues even with Barnes -



With Barnes back it would be easy to say that UNC will just coast through and dominate their way to a championship. Yet, even with all the scoring that UNC will have inside, their outside shooting will still be a bit suspect. The addition of the sniper freshman PJ Hairston (#4 ranked SG) will help, but UNC will need consistent three point shooting from last year’s inconsistent shooting Barnes (34%), Dexter Strickland (25%), Leslie McDonald (38%), Kendall Marshall (37%) and Reggie Bullock (29%).



Defense is an area that UNC always, it seems, only focuses on from time to time. This lack of engagement on the defensive side of the ball could definitely throw a detour on the road to the championship for UNC. The ability to play good defense is there with the talent on the floor, but defense isn’t about skill, it’s about “want to”. Roy Williams will need to instill a commitment to defense if UNC is to reach its championship potential.



Barnes started slow last year, but consistently got better and better throughout the season. If he can continue this growth, he very well could be the best player in college basketball next year on the best team. Sounds like a pretty good incentive to stay in school and put off millions for just one more year, I guess Barnes agrees.



Duke fan’s reaction? Check out the Mr. Duke blog, at mrdukesthoughts.blogspot.com.

- Ben

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