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Point/Counterpoint: Was Barnes too eager for NBA?

BY DI STAFF | JUNE 29, 2012 6:30 AM

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YES

Ames native Harrison Barnes was selected as the No. 7 overall pick in Thursday night's NBA draft — which is awesome, except for one thing.

He's only 20 years old. He's only played two years of college ball. He's still a kid.

Barnes was rated at the No. 1 recruit in 2010's high-school class, according to scout.com, after the Iowan led Ames High to two-consecutive a 4A state titles and perfect seasons his junior and senior year. The Little Cyclone averaged more than 26 points and 10 rebounds a game, not to mention 3 steals per contest.

He could do it all. And when he went to college, he continued to do it all.

Barnes went to North Carolina, where he earned ACC Rookie of the Year honors — an accolade shared by NBA greats such as Michael Jordan and Chris Bosh — and averaged an astounding 21.5 points per game. The Tar Heel shot over 46 percent from the field, 38 percent from long range, and 82 percent from the free-throw line during his freshman year.

The Iowan scored 40 points in the ACC Tournament.

And he kept it up. Barnes' stat line didn't change drastically during his sophomore year. He scored 17 points per game and shot 44 percent from the field. His 38 percent 3-point success still put him among the top of the team even though he was still an underclassman.

Barnes was performing dynamically in the ACC, in a Tar Heels' jersey.

So why would be leave?

He wasn't going to get worse. If anything he'd get even better. The NBA would be waiting for him after he finished his fourth year wearing the Carolina blue.

Barnes is 6-8, 215 pounds — he's not a little guy and won't be pushed around too much in the NBA. He can hold his own in that respect. But what he's lacking is court vision, experience, instinct.

He's a fantastic player, but he always will be. Why not hang around in college for two more years to keep gaining experience before jumping in with the big dogs? If Barnes had decided to continue his education — not even necessarily in terms of a degree, but learning more and more of the game of basketball in a powder-blue jersey — he wouldn't have risked missing his chance at the NBA. The chance would have always been there.

Entering the draft and joining the Warriors was eager and amazing and exciting, but staying in college and gaining more experience before going pro would have been smarter.

— by Molly Irene Olmstead

NO

A degree from a prestigious school such as North Carolina would look good on anyone's résumé, but why would players waste their time in school when a multimillion dollar professional career in basketball is on the horizon?

Harrison Barnes made the right decision when he chose the leave North Carolina after his sophomore year to try for a shot in the NBA. Last night, he was given that shot when he was drafted by Golden State as the seventh pick.

The 6-8 forward averaged around j20 points per game during his first two years; if that's not NBA-caliber talent, I don't know what is.

The Ames native had an outstanding showing in the 2011 ACC Tournament semifinal game against Clemson, putting up a whopping 40 points, going 12-of-17 from the field and 6-of-8 behind the arc. Barnes also scored 14 of the team's 19 points in overtime of that game, helping to the lead the Tar Heels to the win and proving that he can come through in the clutch, a must for anyone playing in a league as high caliber at the NBA. Oh, yeah, did I mention that that 40-point game was during his freshman season?

Not only will Barnes inevitably have a successful career in the NBA, he'll help clean up the league's sometimes less-than-flattering reputation. The former McDonald's All-American has been involved with various charitable and church organization throughout his life, and he always seemed to have a strong sense of where his priorities are (case in point, why he chose to play for the Tarheels as opposed to his hometown Cyclones). He is a humble, well-spoken young man from the middle of Iowa. He'll bring a sense of pride for Iowans when playing in the NBA.

I do think a college education is one of the best things people can do for themselves, but there are certain times when it's downright unnecessary. And this is one of them.

Barnes is an outstanding basketball player. His coaches and teammates at North Carolina — and probably even his mother — might have wanted him to stay in the school, but he made the right decision to leave, avoiding the risk of injury and pursuing what will ultimately be a successful professional basketball career.

— by Nick Fetty


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