After the latest update from Harrison Barnes, I've been doing a lot of thinking about what we've learned, what we already knew, and what happens next. In short, it's crazy trying to predict decisions a 17 year old guy is making (even a very bright one).
I was able to catch the last part of Harrison Barnes' interview this afternoon on the Murph & Andy Show on KXnO. Here's what I heard:
- He is not planning on committing anywhere until April (instead of the early signing period in November)
- ISU is still being considered. You don't live about a mile away from campus and not consider playing at home
- He is trying to arrange his visit to North Carolina over labor day weekend, and Duke in late October
- He is not planning on trimming the list again to a final two or three (at least not publicly).
After thinking all day and taking the latest news in consideration, here is how I think of each school's chances:
Barnes has said in the past he's looking for a school that has good academics (particularly in business), and a legitimate shot at a National Championship. So here we go!
- Duke: I think Duke is in the lead at this point. Barnes has made a handful of unofficial vists there, including a very public one at Cameron Indoor Stadium last year against UNC. He's already seen the campus, atmosphere, etc., and his timing of his visit fits with an early practice or scrimmage. Duke also has the strongest academics on the list, and Duke has been to 10 Final Fours, which can't be ignored.
- Kansas: Not a whole lot to say here. Bill Self is truely an elite coach as he's shown he can reload a National Championship quality team in 2 years (as they will be heavily favored next year), while being a highly ranked team in a "down" year.
- Oklahoma: You might laugh at this, but Oklahoma came out of nowhere so nothing surprises me at this point. It isn't a destination location, doesn't necessarily have stronger academics than other choices, but is trying to continue it's basketball success. I think something is up, and they are in a better position then some may give credit for.
- North Carolina: I put UNC down here mostly because of the timing of his visit. With taking his official visit early, it looks very much like a team he's looking to eliminate and hopes will suprise him. I know Roy Williams has been to Ames a handful of times and has been very active in his recruitment of Barnes. I would think winning 2 Championships in recent history would help their chances, but I would think that Barnes would visit sometime either during or just prior to basketball season would make better sense if they were a front runner.
- Iowa State: Barnes waiting to commit until April helps Iowa State's chances. Last year was thought of as "the year" that McDermott had to prove to Barnes that we were turning it around at Iowa State. In a sense, McDermott has got himself another year. Having an improved roster, and an upgraded non-conference schedule (Cal and Duke as the marquee names) will show where ISU stands. It's make or break, but at least McDermott will be given another chance to show where the program may be going.
- UCLA: Great program, good academics, but the location is far away. It's a beautiful campus, and sounds more of a destination visit than a serious recruiting trip, but who knows? It's the farthest on the list from home, and they tend to get less exposure nationally for an elite team. The weird thing about visiting college campuses, however, is how sometimes your lowest choice can turn into your top choice.
A few closing thoughts:
First, everything I've said above is strictly my opinion. As I've said before, this is a process that is difficult to predict, because of all the variables involved, and no one knows exactly what Harrison is thinking. I've been trying to sort everything out and show what I think is going on.
Second, you cannot do wrong by committing to any of the above schools. Outside of Iowa State, all of the schools are perennial powerhouses, and are programs that most high school kids would dream of playing. Barnes of course will choose the program that fits him best, but there isn't really a "bad" pick.
Third, speculation will continue throughout the season so this type of chatter and speculation is just beginning. The good news for Iowa State fans is that although the chances may be small to land Barnes, they will at least to get prove it on the court this season. Winning is more difficult at ISU than the above schools, but it has been done before. I will do my best to keep up with the latest Harrison Barnes news.
What is your take on the situation, based on recent events?