Saturday, June 20, 2009

Iowa prep Barnes not typical standout

Ballyhooed Ames High recruit keen on business (and, yes, KU is on his list)

Ames High School basketball player Harrison Barnes looks on during practice at the school in Ames, Iowa. The 6-foot-7 standout has been pegged by many as the top prospect in the country.

Ames High School basketball player Harrison Barnes looks on during practice at the school in Ames, Iowa. The 6-foot-7 standout has been pegged by many as the top prospect in the country.



AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall

Ames High School basketball player Harrison Barnes shoots during practice at the school in Ames, Iowa. The 6-foot-7 standout has been pegged by many as the top prospect in the country.

— So you’re Harrison Barnes. A 6-foot-7 basketball player headed into your senior season and pegged by many as the top prep prospect in the country.

Do you watch Game 2 of the NBA finals? Nah.

Do you spend your summer playing nothing but basketball? Nope. You pick up golf, figuring a strong short game might come in handy in the business world someday.

Do you march to the beat of your own drummer? Definitely.

“It’s Harrison. That’s all I can say. It’s just Harrison,” says his mother, Shirley Barnes.

What Harrison is, according to those who know him best, is a driven and remarkably mature 17-year-old.

Barnes carries a GPA over 3.0 and he’s halfway through the best-selling book, “The Millionaire Mind,” with a book about investing genius Warren Buffett next up on his summer reading list. Whatever school he attends — his long list includes Duke, Kansas, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Stanford, UCLA, Kentucky, Texas Christian, Iowa State, Minnesota and Florida — needs to have a business program as good as its basketball team.

“It’s important because I need a school with a lot of connections in economics, to set me up with internships and job opportunities after college,” Barnes said.

That might sound like lip service from a kid with a half-dozen Facebook fan pages set up in his honor. After all, Barnes’ first job after college is likely to be in the NBA.

Ames High School basketball coach Vance Downs insists that Barnes is sincere.

“He’s a very thoughtful, articulate young man and education is a priority,” Downs said. “We all say it, but how many kids live that way? He lives that way. Education is a high priority, his faith is very important to him and basketball is very important to him. But I think he has all his priorities set the way they should be.”

So how did the nation’s top prep player end up in Ames, a relatively obscure Midwestern college town? His mother attended Iowa State and met Harrison’s father, former Cyclones star Ronnie Harris. The two never married, and Shirley went to work for the university while raising Harrison and his 10-year-old sister.

While Barnes is hitting the books, it’s his basketball skills that have garnered the attention of nearly every major college coach in America.

Barnes led Ames to a 26-0 record and a state title last winter, though it was his eye-opening stint on last year’s summer circuit that helped turn him into a top-10 prospect. Ames teammate Doug McDermott insists it’s Barnes’ work ethic, unselfishness and leadership that set him apart.

“Even though he’s the No. 1 player in the country, he’s not like those guys at all. Some of those guys are probably arrogant and kind of selfish when they’re playing, but Harrison is the complete opposite,” said McDermott, the son of Iowa State coach Greg McDermott.

Van Coleman, an Iowa-based recruiting analyst who’s been in the business for more than 30 years, said Barnes reminds him of Chicago Bulls forward Luol Deng and his basketball smarts are reminiscent of Grant Hill.

“Not only does he have the skills and the athleticism, he thinks the game at a level above most players that he plays against,” said Coleman, who has ranked Barnes first in the Class of 2010.

Barnes has made it clear to coaches not to bug him for a decision because he’s not planning to rush it. True to his meticulous nature, Barnes takes a spiral notebook filled with academic and basketball-related questions on every visit he makes.

Two years ago, Downs told his players to take a week off after the end of a grueling season. A few days later, Barnes left his coach a 6 a.m. voicemail from outside the school gym, wondering why the doors were locked.

Downs tried to remind Barnes, then a 14-year-old freshman, about the value of rest. Downs said Barnes simply told him, “Coach, we can’t win championships taking a week off.”


Scott MacWilliams 13 years ago

Well folks, sounds to me like Mr. Barnes was born to be a Jayhawk. With his head and heart both in the right places and an apparent wealth of hoops talent, seems like a natural fit for the Mt. Oread crew. As they say on the game show, "Harrison Barnes, come on down!"

thedudelovesKU 13 years ago

i hope you're right to have him

Eurekahwk 13 years ago

But, the Tarheels think they have him all locked up. Just like they had Danny Manning.

thedudelovesKU 13 years ago

i was born in old are you eureka and how was college bball recruiting news accessible back then?

Dirk Medema 13 years ago

Dude - I graduated in '86. UNC thought that Danny was a lock in '82 (?). That is until Larry came here and brought the Manning family with him.

Recruiting news back then was communicated on these crazy inventions called newspaper and radio. You can probably find one at a museum or someplace like that.

thedudelovesKU 13 years ago

ha dagger...ya this internet thing is just a fad. i give it a month before everyone is tossing their's away

K_Easthouse 13 years ago

I'm not terribly up-to-date on how well KU's business department is, especially compared to his other schools of choice. I suspect it's at least decent.

Either way, it's rare to get this kind of maturity out of someone so young. Here's hoping he makes his home here.

Joe Ross 13 years ago

Its gets like this who you want to be a Jayhawk, not just for selfish reasons, but because you know the Jayhawk family will take care of him. Its a great program that follows the rules and pushes for kids' personal and academic success. Look how we take care of our former players. From ALL perspectives, KU and Barnes are the right fit for each other.

jaybate 13 years ago

Harrison Barnes.

Right stuff.

Next great KU 3.

Pierce. Rush. Henry. Barnes.

Harrison, listen.

KU is the definitive place for great threes to come and develop their game.

The three is the cornerstone of Bill Ball.

The three is the cornerstone of the modern game.

You da man.

We know it.

You know we da program.

We know you know it.


JayhawkCasey 13 years ago

Eurekahwk, "Tarheels think they have him all locked up"? I think he wore a Duke t-shirt to a Duke vs. UNC game last year (I am not positive, but pretty sure it was him). Maybe I am wrong, but that seems like a strong message to me.

Ann Oneill 13 years ago

With academics being a priority, will he stay for four years where ever he commits? Seems unlikely with the talent he has, but I guess time will tell.

JayhawkCasey 13 years ago

That would be great to see a guy of his talet stay 4 years, wherever he goes. Hope it is KU!

Eric TheCapn 13 years ago

I liked him immediately when I read he DIDN'T watch the NBA Finals. Rock Chalk Barnes.

KEITHMILES05 13 years ago

I wonder if the Henry brothers are reading this article?

I immediately thought of them and their "me only" attitudes.

jaybate 13 years ago

Roy recruiting Harrison?

Ooooooouweeee, no, say it ain't so!

Roy, don't ewe have a deal with KU not to recruit the midwest?

Ewe remember: the same kinda a deal ewe had with Uncle Dean not to recruit the east when you wuz at KU!

Good old Roy. I just cain't believe it.

Roy "I Give KU Everthin' I Had Except the Best Talent I Could Recruit in the Most Populace Part of the Country" Williams!

Say it ain't so, Roy.

Say ewe don't recruit the Midwest like ewe didn't recruit the east fer KU.

Say ewe don't.

Roy? Roy?

Remember Shoeless Joe, Roy?

He had all the talent in the world. He had more want-to in his little finger, than anyone else, Roy, but he done wrong, Roy.

He cut a corner once that he shouldn't ought to have.

Once Shoeless Joe didn't give it his all.

Once he didn't do his best Roy.

Did ewe really do your best, when ewe didn't recruit half the country for 15 years, Roy?

You seemed to be tryin' so danged hard when ewe wuz here, Roy. Ya put such good teamz on thuh floor, Roy. We all couldn't hardly believez ewe wuz doin' anythin' but yer full best.

It seemed like ewe wuz, but wuz ewe really, Roy?

Did ewe do everthang legal that ewe could, Roy, really?

Are ewe gonna tell Harrison Barnes to play really, really hard everwhere but in the midwest should he cum ta Tarhole Road?

Are ewe gonna tell Harrison that ewe ain'ta recruitin' the midwest uh'fore, or uh'after he cum ta Tarhole Road?

Seemz like young Harrison deserves to play with the best playerz uh coach can bring, don't it, Roy?

Remember Shoeless Joe, Roy.

He was a great one, jest like ewe.

(Note: I knowz we is supposed to ferget all the negs about Roy cuz we won us a ring and beat him in the process, but they is a recruitin' war going on. And all is fair in love, war and recruitin', so long as it be within the rulez. And this here commentary is. Roy ain't cuttin' KU no slack in the recruitin' warz for top talent. KU and its fans shouldn't cut him none neither. Praise him after he retires...after he is done trying to beat us to the talent. Until that time...)

Roy, look us in the eyez now and answer: did ewe really do yer best fer 15 years fer the crimson and the blue recruitin' wise?

Or wuz ewe wearin' baby blue boxers all uh the time under them fancy suits with the KU ties? Was they uh "UNC" embroidered on them drawers all them yearz?

Did ewe just say ewe did yer best recruitin', er did ewe?

Can a high school boy trust ewe when ewe say he's family, when ewe already abandoned one family one time, after-a sayin' ewe wouldn't?

Can a high school boy trust that ewe will recruit the whole country and put the best players on the floor with him that ewe can, like Bill Self actually duz fer KU, or has ewe got some deal goin' on now, too, some deal where'n ewe sez ewe is givin' Tarhole Road everthin' ewe got, when ewe really ain't?

Remember Shoeless Joe, Roy.

Remember Shoeless Joe, Harrison.

mjlindsm 13 years ago

Given the priority this kid puts on academics, I fear Duke may be leading for him. That's no knock on KU, but realistically, Duke is academically the better school.

However, Kansas is definitely sufficient in that area, and he's close to his Mom according to what I've read about him, so maybe he'll pick a school that's only a 3.5 hour drive away? I hope so.

Hawklin 13 years ago

Roy started in our territory with Hansbrough, and continued with Releford. He will continue with Barnes and move in deep with our own Perry Ellis.

truefan 13 years ago

Duke and Stanford both have better business schools than KU because they are basically Ivy League. KU's Business School is consistantly ranked in the top 30 in the nation which is above any of the other schools on that list. I do not think this kid is a lock anywhere though, he's an uncharacteristic all-star, it's going to take a special coach and a special place to make him feel both athletically and academically comfortable. I hope he comes here, but I feel like he might want to play for the same team that his father played for and at the same school that his mother attended and worked for. He will be a success no matter where he goes, but I would love to see him in KU blue.

DrPepper 13 years ago

truefan, where is UNC on your list of business programs? Undergrad.

100 13 years ago

CBS says he is a KU lean right now.

Let the chips fall where they may, still lots of recruiting trips to take -- however, right now, it appears he wants to be a Hawk.

(by the way we have a top flight business school)

LAJayhawk 13 years ago

The internet rumors say he is leaning toward KU.

Let's hope everyone -- and by everyone I mean media, bloggers and all of us -- keeps their heads and doesn't turn this into the circus that the last recruiting war became.

KUSmurf 13 years ago

Duke doesn't offer an undergrad in business.

DrPepper 13 years ago

Duke's Dept of Economics will probably suffice for business. I hear their alumni provide quite the network.

techa 13 years ago

Here goes Mr. Prognosticator:

Barnes is smart. He is very talented. He has a business sense. He has a mother. Therefore, he will choose one of the following (not in any particular order):

  1. Kansas -- The best players this side of the Mississippi, a good, likeable coach, the best basketball tradition, and it's near home.
  2. UNC -- The best players that side of the Mississippi, a good, (somewhat less) likeable coach, and a big media market (ACC/eastern seaboard).
  3. Duke -- The best academic environment/big media market combination.
  4. Iowa State -- it's home.

AverageCitizen 13 years ago

truefan- UNC message board posters say their business program is ranked #5 in the nation. Where are you getting your info on KU's rank? Also, I read that big public universities have under grad business degrees but the private universities stick with post grad degrees only in business. Don't know what he truth is though.

Tony Bandle 13 years ago

Some things in KU's favor:

1] Long term success in recruiting Iowa kids out of Iowa....LaFrenz, Hinrich, Collison, etc 2] Justifiably lofty expectations for this years squad will continue the tone of KU excellence and a possible NC. 3] Probable vacancy of our #1 number 3, X Henry, by 2010/2011 as a one and done. 4] The previous visits and tournaments that Harrison has been to in Lawrence. 5] The gorgeous KU campus, the unmatchable KU basketball traditon and the top of the heap Venue, Allen Fieldhouse all play a part. 6] Jayhawk's not about being a fan, it's about being a family. 7] Bill Self and Danny Manning....nuff said.

kranny 13 years ago

Where are getting the Henry's "me-only" attitude? Show me proof.

kranny 13 years ago

Pardon the ommission. I meant "Where are we getting the Henry's "me-only" attitude? I have read nothing that lends itself to that conclusion. X is staying in his hometown with his own doctor to take care of his dental problems and working out. CJ is staying with his brother because he'd have to pay his own way. They are staying with their family for the summer. Lighten up and don't throw the young man under the bus before he's even put on a KU practice jersey.

lee3022 13 years ago

I can partially answer the question about KU's Business school. I graduated in 1967 with Finance and Accounting majors in Business. A major accounting firm recruited me for Portland OR without my ever visiting there and hired me. I found fellow rookies in the firm (about 14 or 15) were from Stanford and Harvard and U of Oregon among others. I never felt unprepared by comparison. In fact my professors at KU helped me immensely to know what to expect. At that time we had professors who had worked extensively in the accounting profession and in other industries and brought many practical lessons into the classrooms. KU was among the earliest public universities to allow undergraduate business majors access to the main frame computer and we learned to program and actually work with the raw data and develop early analytical programs that I was able to adapt to public accounting in Portland (convincing my partners to buy mainframe computer time to run them) for small business.

Maybe more important is that at KU the Midwest atmosphere of hard work and personal caring along with University insistence on broad multidisciplinary exposure produced for me a live-long hunger to learn and to care for others in and out of business.

ku_foaf 13 years ago


Thanks for the info. You are right. No B.S. in business from Duke! Whoda thunkit?

I hear a lot about the value of a Duke MBA and the medical school, but the rest? I have never come across a Duke engineer in 26 years. It seems to be a liberal arts school. Only 13,000 students.

LAJayhawk 13 years ago


According to their website, Duke offers degrees in Biomedical, Civil, Electrical/Computer, and Mechanical Engineering.

It does look like they only have MBA's in business, but they do offer a BA & BS in economics.

ku_foaf 13 years ago


I saw they had an engineering program. I've met or heard about of someone from about any other school in the Southeast. I think only one from Duke. KU alumni are far more visible!

jayhawkr34 13 years ago

two questions, when does he have to decide? also, is he a "one and done" player. if so i'd rather we get a recruit that is going to develope, like Darnell Jackson, or Moody. i like that kind of player over the "superstar" recruit. just me

LAJayhawk 13 years ago


Lance Stephenson hasn't decided yet for this upcoming season. So, theoretically, he has until August 2010. Realistically, Barnes will probably make his pick in the early spring next year if not earlier.

And I have to say, even though he has loads of talent, he certainly sounds like a guy interested -- strangely enough -- in an education. He will, undoubtedly, be a huge pickup for whomever lands him.... hopefully the jersey will have some version of red, preferably crimson, and a blue hue of sorts.....

mjlindsm 13 years ago

I have heard lots of kids say they want to stay until they graduate, but as far as ones who would go in the lottery after 1 year, I've yet to see one actually stay. The closest I can think of would be Jay Williams and Emeka Okafor, who both actually wanted their degree. However, Barnes seems like he would probably be a top 5 pick after 1 year, and the smart thing to do would be to leave. With that said, I'd take him in a heartbeat as a one and done. I'm more impressed with him than Xavier in both the basketball and character departments, and I have no problems with Xavier, so that's saying a lot.

100 13 years ago

Kid who could've gone as an easy top 5 NBA draft pick and skipped college -- Danny Manning

Kid who could've been the #1 overall draft pick after freshman year in college -- Danny Manning

Kid who should've been the #1 draft pick after his sophmore year in college -- Danny Manning

Kid who would've been the #1 pick after his Junior year in college -- Danny Manning

Man who was the #1 pick in the NBA draft after his senior year in college after earning a college degree and winning a national championship -- Danny Manning

jayhawker85 13 years ago

  1. The times have changed. I don't think we'll see another Danny Manning. We may see several four-year players drafted, but none of that talent. But Barnes is from Iowa, and KU has a pretty good track record of keeping kids from there for four years.

sps3334 13 years ago

My money is that this comes down to KU, Duke, and UNC. MAYBE throw Minnesota in there, too.

Duke is better academically, however, they do not offer business undergrad. The economics program is a big selling point, as Harrison has said he wants a school with a good econ program and good econ networking opportunities. Uh oh. On the bright side, Duke is not on the same category as KU and UNC in terms of "perennial contenders". I can see Coach K busting his butt to get this kid though, as he seems to fit the Blue Devil mold.

UNC's business program is ranked #12 nationally (pretty sure, not positive). That's bad news for us. They are also capable of winning a NC every year. Negative- far from home.

KU's business program is in the top 30 nationally, and as a current student in it, I know its pretty challenging. Barnes would get his money's worth there. KU, like UNC is capable of winning year-in and year-out. Especially next year, as Bill could stop recruiting and we could be LOADED with talent for the next 2-3 years. Also, Barnes would likely fit the Henry mold, where he is the one missing piece of the puzzle. We have a PG, SG, PF, and C all lined up for 2010-11. X man is gone after this year, so Barnes could step right in and lead us to the promised land again. I'm more than sure Big Daddy Bill has let him know this. Also, I've read on various boards 2 important points for KU. First, he wants to stay close to home. Edge: KU. Second, "whoever sells Harrison's mom, gets Harrison". If there's one thing Big Daddy Bill can do, it's make parents love him. In fact, Harrison's madre has already said she likes KU's vicinity to Ames, as well as how they run their program.

I'll be following this very closely; this kid is something special. Hopefully he's a hawk.

sps3334 13 years ago

Oh, and you gotta love a kid who knows a snake when he sees one:

Oh Cal, when you play with fire, eventually you will get burnt.

JayJayPG 13 years ago

LaFrentz, Collison, Hinrich...Barnes.

I hope it's in the cards. We are long overdue for another Iowa stud. This kid is a college coaches wet dream...brains, maturity, and basketball talent.

I'm thinking it will ultimately be down to Duke, UNC, or KU.

mesa1998 13 years ago

sps, you are wrong. KU does not have a good undergrad business program or a good graduate b school. KU is actually just below mizzou, around 75. Not to mention the fact that the economics program isn't even in the business program at KU, it is in the College of Liberal Arts and Science, which IS a good program nationally. Check out the rankings. UNC is 12 though.

Joseph Kuebel 13 years ago

In magazines, and sometimes newspaper articles they will highlight one quote and put it in a large bold font size...

The following is that kinda quote...

"drgnslayr (anonymous) says...

At least we know he is smart enough to see thru Calipari's sales pitch..."

chriz 13 years ago

Anyone think Coach K would consider coaching the Lakers? If so, that probably rules out Duke. Keep talkin', Kobe!

Commenting has been disabled for this item.