A few months ago, I wrote a piece about Harrison Barnes, right after he and Carolina flamed out in the NCAA tournament following Kendall Marshall’s injury. My article, a tongue-in-cheek bit about Barnes’ infatuation with his “brand” as well as the lack of awareness he showed by discussing this so publicly, was pretty harsh on the player whom I exclusively referred to as “The Black Falcon.” I portrayed Barnes as a business major who thought of his basketball as little more than a hobby, and although the NCAA may want fans to believe something similar, I’m sure it wasn’t an accurate illustration of his situation.
Although facetious and intended to be light-hearted, the column’s thesis wasn’t far from my true sentiments. As a Duke fan, I considered Barnes wildly overrated–but this was a product of the hype-driven college recruiting process and the media mania surrounding ACC (i.e. Duke and Carolina) basketball. Barnes, for the most part, didn’t bring about any of this hoopla onto himself*–he wasn’t the one naming himself as an NCAA Preseason All-American as a freshman. The raised expectations for Barnes were a byproduct of his prodigious talent and analysts’ overzealous projections, nothing more.