Barnes Makes Kenny Rogers Blush


You have to know when to hold ’em
Know when to fold ’em
Know when to walk away
Know what school you’re going to declare to, thus shaping the college landscape for the next 2-3 years.

Everyone who has written about the Harrison Barnes recruitment saga has all said the same thing, the man is a poker player. Unlike the Kyrie Irving situation, where it was reported that he committed to Duke the day before his announcement, no one and I mean no one has a clue where No 1 recruit Harrison Barnes is headed.

If basketball doesn’t work out for young Barnes, the World Series of Poker may just be the next logical step.

What we do know is this, we’ll know by the end of the day today (around 4PM on ESPNU).

Barnes is a special player. He can turn an average program and make them elite. As for the elites, he can turn them into championships.

After a long, grueling recruiting process, Harrison has narrowed his choices down to Duke, Kansas, North Carolina, UCLA, Oklahoma and Iowa State. All six schools have a reason to be optimistic. Each can point to a person, a visit or a quote by Barnes that gives them hope. The kid is that good.

If I had to make an educated guess (which should be ignored), this is how I’d rank the teams.

No 1) DUKE…I’ll explain below.

No 2) NORTH CAROLINA…the kid idolizes MJ, who he met when he visited Chapel Hill. That had to have some kind of impact.

No 3) UCLA…the kid wants championships. The Bruins could finally get over that hump with Barnes.

No 4) IOWA STATE…his mom works at the school.

No 5) KANSAS…Word is, Coach Self won’t be watching at 4PM. Tells me all I need to know.

No 5) OKLAHOMA…you never know, but I doubt it.

In reality, here’s the deal for Duke. The Devils have been on top of Barnes for over two years. Word is, the kid adores Coach K. Not only has he made every official visit to Durham, he’s also made at least three non-official trips to Duke. That is not common for a kid to make that many unofficial visits. During each visit, the kid has been decked out in full Devil gear. Again, this all means nothing, but it’s a positive sign.

The question is, how important is this kid to Duke? In chat rooms and on message boards, I’ve seen the kid called a “savior.” This is a little much. Duke averages 25 wins a season, has won seven of the last 10 ACC titles, the team doesn’t need to be saved.

Duke has a solid top-1o class coming in next year, along with transfer, Curry. Duke basketball will keep winning with or without Barnes.

Having said that, if you add in Barnes to that recruitment class and assume he’ll be here for at least two seasons, maybe three, Duke would be one of the favorites to win it all over that stretch.

In the end though, this is really about Coach K vs. Roy Williams. That’s ALL this is really about. After years of abuse by the Devils, Williams and UNC are now the top dogs again. They’ve won two titles over the last four years, they’ve won four straight in Cameron and they’re winning the recruiting wars.

Oddly enough, even though Duke and UNC are only eight miles apart and both compete for national titles, they have not gone head-to-head too often in recruiting. The last player Coach K and Coach Williams both went after was Brandon Wright. Roy won that one, although Wright was a one-and-done.

Overall though, Williams has certainly won the recruitment war since his return to UNC (Just read the story of two white guys).

Like I already pointed out, Coach K has gone after Barnes hard for two years. Roy Williams jumped on the bandwagon late, but he’s been aggressive going after Barnes lately. Hell, both coaches visited Barnes on the same day at his home. When does that happen?

For Carolina to lose Barnes to Duke, it wouldn’t be a big deal. They’re the ones on top, they already have a solid 2010 class and again, they came late to the Barnes party.

For Duke to lose Barnes to UNC though, that would be like if I was chasing after the hottest girl in the neighborhood for two years and right when I think I got her falling in love with me, my neighbor, who just got done banging two other hot chicks, swoops in, flashes some jewelry (Jordan), asks her out and suddenly they’re dog face down in the backseat of his Camaro.

We simply can’t have Roy Williams swoop in and steal Coach K’s new girlfriend.