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In depth Harrison Barnes interview from the LeBron James Skills Academy

Harrison Barnes rips to the bucket - copyright BDN Photo
Harrison Barnes rips to the bucket - copyright BDN Photo

Andrew Slater will be reporting from the LeBron James Skills Academy wall week long.  Join BDN Premium for the best AAU coverage available on any Duke subscription site.  We guarantee your satisfaction.

Harrison Barnes emerged last spring through his play in the various AAU tournaments, the Nike Hoop Jamboree, and ultimately the LeBron James Skills Academy to become one of the most coveted recruits in the country and in the history of his native state, Iowa.

Through skilled play, a high caliber of athleticism, and a excellent mix of basketball IQ and work ethic, Barnes has materialized from a non-traditional basketball area to become arguably the top ranked prospect in the 2010 class.

After finishing the drills portion of the LeBron James Skills Academy, the hyper-articulate 6’8” Iowan sat down with Blue Devil Nation to discuss a variety of topics, from what his feelings are on AAU ball and whether he views himself as a role model to whether he feels there is a target on his back as the consensus top ranked player in his class and what he took away from his visits to Duke University.

Blue Devil Nation:

What are you looking for on your unofficial visits?

Harrison Barnes:

On my unofficial visits?

BDN:

Yes, what have you looked for on your various unofficial visits?

HB:

Oh, I just try to keep an open mind and see what each individual university has to offer, both academically and in terms of their program.

BDN:

What are some lessons or things you’ve learned from reading the Millionaire’s Mind?  My friend wrote an article on you recently and, in it, he mentioned that you were reading it as your sort of summer book.

HB:

I would just say they to focus on grade point averages and…grade point averages and…I [private] ’m sorry I’m just going to have to get something (Barnes’ nose begins to bleed profusely)

BDN:

Sure, sure. I just hope I didn’t cause it.  Do you want to do this later?

HB:

(laughs) No, not at all.  It’s fine.

Fran Fraschilla:

Excuse me, just one second. I just need to say one thing to Harrison.

HB:

I would just say being smart with your money and always know where your money is and just being able to measure out with it.

Blue Devil Nation:

What are some aspects of your game that you feel you’ve markedly improved upon since last summer?

Harrison Barnes:

I would just say I’ve made major strides with my ball-handling and I still need to make major strides in it to become a more all-around ball player

BDN:

I think your range has improved since last year. You could knock down the three-pointer last year, but you’ve been far more consistent here with it this year.

HB:

I would say I try to do a good job of being consistent with my shooting.

Blue Devil Nation:

What are some things that you’d like to tweak or improve upon over the next year, as you prepare to enter college?

Harrison Barnes:

I would say my strength and ball-handling.

BDN:

Strength?

HB:

Yeah, it’s a big change at each level you go up through.

BDN:

It’s always interesting to see just how much stronger and more conditioned the college players they bring in are in comparison to the high school kids.

HB:

It is a big difference.

Blue Devil Nation:

Sure, as the top player in your class or at least certainly one of the top prospects in your class, do you feel a target on your back this spring?

Harrison Barnes:

I would say I do. Just being the number one player, everyone wants to knock you off… so you always just have guard up.

BDN:

Everyone’s trying to make their name off of you, so to speak.

HB:

(Laughs) That’s correct.

Blue Devil Nation:

What are some things that you’ve learned about yourself, either on or off the court, through coming to camps like this, the NBAPA one, and the Paul Pierce?

Harrison Barnes:

I would just say to be mentally strong…because there’s a lot of adversity that you will face.

BDN:

Do you find there are lot of egos to deal with, as one player mentioned beforehand?

HB:

I would agree with that. There are a lot of egos to deal with, but there also a lot of people coming from different backgrounds.

Blue Devil Nation:

Can you talk about your undefeated high school season and also are you looking forward to the national TV game in December?

Harrison Barnes:

Yes, that is correct. I would say that winning the chip and going undefeated for us was a great accomplishment for us because we had a chip on our shoulders to win the state championship for two years now and we finally bucked it.

BDN:

And can you touch on the nationally televised game in December?

HB:

That’ll be against Jereme Richmond from Waukegan high school so…well, Waukegan high school and that should be a good game for us. A very good match-up.

BDN:

Do you think you’ll announce at a press conference or in a more low-key manner?

HB:

At this point, I do not know.

Blue Devil Nation:

And your mentality and focus heading into this camp…Was it the same as the other ones or was there something different?

Harrison Barnes:

I would just say I wanted to get a lot of skill work in and just learn more about team offense.

BDN:

Do you think you benefited greatly from coming here last year, as opposed to some of the other players, who may be feeling nerves?

HB:

I would just say that last year was a chance for me to get some experience.

Blue Devil Nation:

Do you ever have any concerns that kids, not necessarily you because you‘ve cut back, are spending too much time playing AAU games and not enough time on skill development and refinement?

Harrison Barnes:

I would say AAU is both good because you get ot compete against some of the best players in the country, but also bad because you’re not really working on improving your skills. I think camps like these are good because you have a good balance.

Blue Devil Nation:

Who are some people, whether in basketball or in other fields, that you’ve tried to emulate?

Harrison Barnes:

I would just say I try to emulate Kobe Bryant…just because we have the same body-type and I try to use his same skills.

Blue Devil Nation:

For the fans of the program that is fortunate enough to land you, what do you hope to bring to the college program that you select?

Harrison Barnes:

I think I’ll bring versatility and I hope that, whatever program I go to, we’ll just having a winning career or season.

Blue Devil Nation:

Do you view yourself as a role model for your sister or for younger kids?

Harrison Barnes:

I would say that people in the Ames community who are younger definitely look up to me with how successful I’ve been at the high school level…and so hopefully I can continue to be at the college level as well.

BDN:

Do you try to carry yourself that way on and off the court?

HB:

Well, I think that’s just the policy. If you ever want to make this game at the professional level, you have to carry yourself at a high level.

Blue Devil Nation:

Playing in Ames, is there a lot of pressure for you to be a savior of sorts for Iowa St. or do people generally leave you alone and wish you the best of luck, regardless of your decision?

Harrison Barnes:

I think people have been generally good about where I’m going to go. There’s not a lot of pressure for me to go to Iowa St… they’re just expressing that they want me to do what’s best for me.

Blue Devil Nation:

Are there ever even brief moments where you think that you’d like to simply end the process early and simply announce where you are going to attend school or do you think you’ll go through with your unofficials and move onto your five official visits?

Harrison Barnes:

Yes, that is correct. I plan to, um,…drag it out, as they say

BDN:

(Laughs)

HB:

Just because there are a lot of schools that I haven’t seen and I don’t want to shortchange them or myself.

Blue Devil Nation:

The thing that stands out about you is that you’re the very rare combination of being an elite basketball player and also a very good student. Can you talk about striving for perfection in both of those areas?

Harrison Barnes:

Well, thank you, but I would just say that basketball and academics are a marriage and it’s very hard to be good in one without the other so…

BDN:

Well, then I’ve got to say it‘s relatively unusual.

HB:

Well, as much time as I spend on basketball, it only makes sense that I spend as much time working on non-basketball things because you have to be academically eligible at both the high school and college level…so it only makes sense.

BDN:

But I was impressed that Kevin (Armstrong) said you had taken five AP courses.Well, I’m just trying to get ahead in college. I’m anticipating.

BDN:

Sure, it’s still a difficult workload.Yes.

Blue Devil Nation:

How do you deal with the expectations and pressure, both internally and externally?

Harrison Barnes:

I would just say it’s not that bad because, as an athlete, pressure is created by yourself.

BDN:

Sure, it’s more internal.

HB:

Yeah, it’s more internal than anything. I think it’s just a matter of going out there and playing for me and going out there and playing my game.

BDN:

You seemed to be really focused today.

HB:

Well, I think every time you step between these lines there has to be some sense of focus because you are only measured by what goes on there.

Blue Devil Nation:

You‘ve visited Duke several times. What would you say you took away from those visits?

Harrison Barnes:

I would just say that there was a very family type of atmosphere…very homey…and it’s more than just basketball out there. It’s about being a man and continuing to grow.

BDN:

What are your plans for the remainder of the summer?

HB:

I have this and then the Peach Jam. I have a few events in August, such as the Global Challenge, but other than that I don’t know. [/private]