Duke will entertain the nations top rated prospect, Harrison Barnes, this weekend – but don’t look for a sudden verbal.
Barnes has been methodical and consistent throughout the recruiting process, refusing to talk of any schools in home visits. In short, the Barnes family feels these matters are personal.
That has led to a lot of wild speculation for when there is little factual information available, rumors and spin mills dominate the frantic and obsessed message boards. Of course, battles between rival schools like Duke and UNC make this recruitment sizzling hot.
The Blue Devils were on Barnes, 6-6 forward, early and his relationship with Krzyzewski goes back a good ways. In fact, Barnes has visited Duke three times and this weekend’s official visit will be the fourth time.
But that hasn’t stopped Roy Williams and UNC from making a hard charge a bit later in the process. Despite the fact Williams could not talk to Barnes in any way, he flew to Iowa recently and – sure enough – local TV stations picked up on it. This enabled Williams to get some TV time and his mission accomplished.
For every move the Blue Devils have made, Williams has had a counter move, but this weekend, Barnes attention will be on Duke and Duke alone.
Barnes would be a great fit for Duke in more ways than one. The Blue Devils offer a roster spot guaranteeing Barnes to play his natural position. The Devils made no secret that he was their choice from day one and in the process they’ve turned away other interested prospects making him a priority recruit.
The Blue Devils are also expected to get a verbal from Kyrie Irving tonight but this is yet to be official and that may well help their cause for Barnes has mentioned that he’d like to play with him. In fact, the two stay in regular contact with one another, but in today’s social media outlets, that’s not surprising.
Kansas and Oklahoma remain in the mix for Barnes as well, but the consensus among those in the know is that this is a tobacco road battle.
This is nothing new, for the two behemoths have gone head to head before. One of those battles was for Brandon Wright, a player Duke coveted that signed with the Heels.
But another was Shane Battier, who called Dean Smith to let him know of his choice and got an answer of “okay.” followed by a dial tone.
While Wright was a good player for UNC, Battier was a legend at Duke and the battle for Barnes is more similar in that he is a certain impact player.
Make no mistake that this is one important recruit for Duke and a commitment would start a shift in the balance of power in a big way. Of course, Williams knows this and he has done a great job of making up ground.
Let’s be honest here, Williams likely knows that Barnes to Duke would be a huge future blow. I’m sure he’d take a Barnes to Kansas scenario and rest at ease, but this is as much about keeping Barnes away from Duke as it is getting him to Chapel Hill.
Only time will tell in this one and no matter what you hear in the coming week, very little of it is likely to be factual. One thing I’m pretty certain of is that Barnes will go through with his plans and announce on November 12th and Duke is most certainly in this one.
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