My intentions were to use this post to go off on Ames High School blue chip recruit Harrison Barnes if and when his announcement today was not Iowa State. Then I started having a change of heart. It wasn't because I thought more about it and conceded North Carolina was a wise choice. It's just because I wanted to give him the benefit of the doubt. Unlike some other cocky high schoolers that get egotistical during such a moment (i.e., Kobe Bryant back in the day), this kid came across very likable. I couldn't in good conscience dog him out. But he is still getting called out.
As soon as Harrison uttered the words "I am and will always be a Cyclone fan", it was obvious that ISU wasn't his selection. Actually, even before that it was obvious. I knew it from the moment he was talking about being enticed by the atmosphere on the campus because he "felt the passion they have for their game". That certainly isn't Iowa State. It would have been back in the day when they had a top 20 squad, but it hasn't been lately. However, that's exactly why he SHOULD have chosen Iowa State.
Here's the thing...Barnes had the opportunity to make a name for himself AND for a program. By going to Iowa State, he could have been a huge part in forging a contender. His presence could have served as an excellent recruiting tool to bring other blue chips there. He could have been a solid foundation. It would have been just a matter of time before the Cyclones were not only back on top in the Big 12 but also a powerhouse in the country. Don't laugh, because it has happened before on a few different occasions.
Barnes had the chance to go to a program where he could define it. Going to Iowa State and making them nationally relevant would have increased his own stock exponentially. Instead, he ends up going to a place where the program is going to define him. He's going to be just another cog in the Tarheel machine at North Carolina. Just another example of the big name programs loading up on more talent to make the overall NCAA field less competitive.
I don't subscribe to the theory that he had to play for UNC to be on a bigger stage. The kid is the #1 small forward recruit in the nation. Some media outlets even have him pegged as the #1 recruit overall. No matter where he went, he was going to get pub. As a result, he would get the additional exposure he was looking for. Then all he would have to worry about was making sure he could deliver on the court.
In the end, as nice as Barnes may be, he is really just another product of today's impatient generation. They are looking for that instant gratification. Why invest the time and effort it would take to make a contender when you can go to a team that already is one? In this era where so many kids are one and done, it wouldn't even take that long to help make a school competitive. But there's no sense in even doing that when you can have all the championship pieces handed to you. Where's the fun in actually working for it?
The truth is, Iowa State never stood a chance. I'm not sure anyone else ever did. The rumor is that Michael Jordan himself was at Chapel Hill to talk to Barnes when he came there for a visit. How is anyone going to compete with that? I suppose ISU could have had Fred Hoiberg speak with him but that's as close as they could have come. Plus, few schools could afford to pay Barnes the money I'm sure he was looking for. Yes...I said it. Let's not be naive here. UNC does have some of the best athletes that money can buy.