Harrison Barnes chooses North Carolina

Every legacy left at Ames High is certainly unique. In each one, we are sure to remember one thing. The image of 3,000 screaming fans on a Friday afternoon will be etched forever into the memories of all present that day. The Ames High gymnasium has seen its fair share of crowds, but none like this. Ames students, staff, and community members were present to support the legacy of one of their own. The assembly was the culmination of the talent and perseverance of none other than Harrison Barnes. Barnes is the poster child of Ames High School basketball. The Ames community has watched Barnes grow from a young man into the most dominant recruit in the nation. He has transformed from a skillful freshman into a state champion. As masses of fans gathered in the gym, they anxiously awaited Barnes’ decision. Fans came to find out where Barnes would transform from a high school star player into a college hoops phenomenon. Barnes’ choices included UNC, Duke, Kansas, UCLA, Oklahoma and Iowa State. He did a remarkable job keeping his choice under wraps. Other than himself, only his mother and sister knew his decision. It was anyone’s guess where he would go. Most thought the front-runner was Duke, while many Ames residents hoped number 40 would join Greg McDermott at ISU. He ultimately chose the University of North Carolina. Barnes kept everyone guessing until the very end. “Today I am proud to announce that the school I will attend in the fall of 2010 will be the coach that I am going to Skype.” Barnes said regarding his decision. He then connected to Coach Roy Williams via the Internet. The whole Tar Heels team had stopped practice to wait for Harrison’s decision. When Williams learned Barnes would join his team next year, he let out a joyful “All right!” Barnes proceeded to sign his letter of intent to the University of North Carolina. Harrison explained his reasoning for signing with UNC: “I have a really strong relationship with Coach Williams, but at the same time they have a great academic plan for me. When I went there and sat down with the academic advisors, they had every class that I was going to take mapped out for a 3 year plan starting this summer ending the spring of my junior year, the classes I was going to take, how many electives and all this stuff just mapped out for me. It was great to see what classes I was going to take and no other school did that without me asking them to do it. This decision didn’t come instantly for Barnes. “During the last week of my recruitment I was leaning very strongly towards [UNC] but it’s never over until you sign. I could have on the spot changed my mind.” Barnes said. Barnes says there was no second choice. “I would say that it was kind of all even. I could have really gone to any of them.” Fans of the losing teams must take solace in this, especially the Iowa State fans. Although Barnes’ presence at ISU would have changed the program, fans need to understand his job is to go where he fits best. Barnes didn’t think ISU was that place. Barnes will always have strong feelings toward Coach McDermott and the ISU program. “I think they are great fans, I really do; they have shown me nothing but love and support throughout this whole process. I am going to continue being an Iowa State fan. And I hope that they were following me because of Harrison Barnes not just because I could have been a potential ISU player.” Barnes said. Coach McDermott was the only coach to call and congratulate Barnes on his decision. Along with Coach McDermott, Barnes had an almost endless list of coaches that helped him during his life: Coach Downs, Sullivan, and Jafar Asmyash to name a few. These coaches helped him hone his game. Barnes had other guidance along the way. Barnes is an avid believer in God. “He is the reason I am where I am today, he is the reason I am the person I am today, without him I would not be here.” Barnes said. Harrison is not only a strong follower in God, he inspires others to believe. Each Wednesday morning Harrison leads a Bible study overlooking the court he plays on every day. Harrison calls this group “Word on Wednesdays”. “I started the group a year ago because I wanted to represent God in school and encourage anyone interested.” Barnes said. Barnes is always willing to help others. Those who have missed the opportunity to meet Barnes, are sure to judge. Most of whom will judge incorrectly. When someone posseses as much talent that Barnes has, they are sure to be a dumb “Jock” right? Barnes is the opposite. If one were to label Barnes, you could throw in nerd too, because of his 3.4 GPA and heavy, AP filled, course load. If you look past the false stereotypes, Harrison is a normal 17 year old kid. He listens to rap music, hangs out with friends and watches ESPN. But when it comes down to it, Harrison Barnes is a basketball star bound to play in the NBA. Harrison is planning to stick to his three year plan but says “If the opportunity comes up to go pro, I will address it then.” For arguably one of Ames High’s greatest, all we can do is wait and watch. Barnes’ legacy may have ended at Ames High, but his bright future will carry his time in these halls with him. Barnes’ talent was a gift, but his respect was solely earned through his own hard work. To give justice to a memory as special as Harrison’s, his coach, Vance Downs, could not have said it any better, “Your hard work is matched by no one, your dedication I have never seen in a young man to this degree.”