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Where, oh where, will Harrison Barnes call home?

November 10, 2009 - Troy Banning

Ames High senior basketball icon Harrison Barnes is just days away from letting us all in on his little secret. On Friday at roughly 3:10 p.m., in front of about a million of his closest friends watching around the country on ESPNU, the 6-foot-6 small forward prodigy will announce his college decision.


            Internet chat rooms have been rampant with “where’s Harrison going?” blabber for months. It’s down to six schools — Duke, North Carolina, Kansas, Iowa State, Oklahoma and UCLA — so it’s not like he’s pulling a needle out of a haystack here, but you can probably guess why local college basketball fans are twitching like they’ve got ants in their pants.

            Will he? I mean, could he? Is it possible that maybe, just maybe this state’s most high-profile prep hoops player in decades could shun all of the big-name programs to stay in his own hometown to play for the Iowa State Cyclones?

            Hmmm...we’ll get back to that in a minute.

            I’m as clueless as our newspaper editor — she’s sitting just steps away and has never even heard the name Harrison Barnes — when it comes to what’s going through the kid’s head. But I’m here anyway to put down my uneducated opinion as to what hat he will place on his head Friday afternoon.

            We’re going to play a game of percentages when it comes to the lucky school.

Duke: 32 percent

             Although I enjoy a Duke victory about as much as I would enjoy an Anderson Silva kick to the cranium, I still give the Blue Devils the slight edge when it comes to garnering Barnes’ services.

            Look, it’s Duke. Home of Coach K (OK, I’ll spell it out since I just looked it up...Krzyzewski), the Cameron Crazies and enough national championship banners to give a recruit the warm fuzzies. Throw in the fact that ESPN probably has its own headquarters on campus because of the amount of Duke games that it televises, and it’s not hard to figure out why the No. 1 recruit in the country would want to call it home.

            Oh yeah, it’s a pretty good academic school too.

North Carolina: 31 percent

            The defending national champion Tar Heels are running neck-and-neck with their rivals just down Tobacco Road, in my opinion. Head coach Roy Williams runs an up-tempo offense that fits Barnes’ strengths perfectly, and besides, who wouldn’t want to play in an arena where they can look up every night and see the retired jersey of one Michael Jordan?

            Duke is a more prestigious academic institution and it’s common knowledge that Barnes is a bright guy, so that could play a part as well.

Kansas: 30 percent

            Earlier in the day I wouldn’t have given the Jayhawks much of a chance. But a person who knows Barnes (and this person wanted to remain anonymous) says this could be the school of choice. It was a guess, they said, but at this point we’re all guessing.

            Why Kansas? Mr. or Ms. Anonymous pointed to the program’s top flight recruiting class this year and its chance of winning a national championship in the near future (Duke and North Carolina don’t?). Kansas is also known for its academics and it’s in the Big 12, which means Barnes would be able to make it home to Ames once a year for a reunion with the hometown folk when the Jayhawks and Cyclones play.

            Hey, I’m sold.

Iowa State: 5 percent

            I’m sorry, Cyclone fans. I really am. I just don’t see it happening, but I guess it’s not completely out the question.

            Barnes signing with Iowa State would probably be better than winning the lottery for Cyclones’ head coach Greg McDermott. It would immediately put the ISU program on the national map and it would greatly improve the possibilities of getting other elite players to jump on board.

            Ames has always been home for Barnes, so that could help as well. Right?

            Um...maybe not so much.

            When I was a senior in high school, I couldn’t wait to hop in the car and jam the accelerator to the floor on my way out of town. And I don’t think I’m alone in that regard.

            Besides, if you were The Man, would you choose Iowa State over Duke?

            By the way, the anonymous one dismissed the Cyclones as well.

Oklahoma: 1 percent

            Jeff Capel is a great coach and he’s building a great program at Oklahoma. But nothing that I’ve heard even remotely says that he’s been able to land Barnes. If he’s going to Big 12 country, I think Kansas and Iowa State both have their hooks deeper into Barnes.

UCLA: 1 percent

            If it were me I might just pick UCLA. Come on, people. It’s southern California! Sunshine and string bikinis on a daily basis...what more could he want?

            On the other hand, I haven’t heard a lot of scuttlebutt on this front either. Bruins’ coach Ben Howland prefers a slower, grind-it-out type of game and I’m not so sure that’s where Barnes thrives.

            The school looks good on paper, but doubtful to be the choice.

            Well, what do you think? Am I way off base with my predictions? I guess we’ll all find out on Friday.


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