Barnes Returning for “Special Season”

We’ve been pretty quiet around The Rafters world headquarters concerning Harrison Barnes’ decision whether to go to the NBA or return for his sophomore year. Call it superstition or whatever you want – it worked. Today, Barnes announced via press release that he’d be coming back to Chapel Hill for another year of Black Falcon strikes and Based God bludgeoning.

For Carolina fans, this high might last all week. For me it isn’t quite the same as when Ty Lawson, Wayne Ellington and Danny Green decided to return for the 2008-’09 season in a few ways, and very much like it in one, big way. It’s different in that we were kind of held on edge for all three of those players, not really knowing just how good Carolina would be the next year until they decided to return. With Barnes’ decision, we knew the Heels will be good regardless, but it didn’t feel like a title season was in reach until he came back, and that’s the way it feels the same as ’09, that a title season is certainly in reach.

While Carolina would have been a Top 10 team without Barnes, adding his seemingly ceilingless ability to the squad makes the team a prohibitive favorite.

Next year could also become a legendary season thanks to Carolina’s schedule. UNC has an annual match-up with another title contender next year in Kentucky. It’s first game of the season will be on an aircraft carrier. And if the ACC/Big 10 Challenge continues be scheduled in efforts to create the best match-ups, Carolina could potentially be facing another Top 5 team in Ohio State all before the conference season begins. Duke, also, did not miss a beat and will have a very talented team to provide what could be another season with three UNC/Duke games.

There will be plenty of speculation between now and November for what Barnes referred to in the press release as a “special season,” but I’ll just let him say it in his own words:

“As a team, we’re preparing for a special season. My off-season plans are to diligently work on honing my basketball skills in all areas with one team-goal in mind — to bring the 2012 national championship home to UNC.”

Welcome back, Harrison.