PPP: Harrison Barnes a.k.a. The Black Falcon

“The best player on the best team in the country.” That line has probably been in 70 percent of articles about Barnes leading up to this season. A projected Top 5 NBA draft pick last year, Barnes comes back to a loaded team with one goal in mind — national championship. He’s put on about 15 pounds of muscle in the offseason, which should help him in getting to the rim more consistently instead of settling for jumpers. If he continues on the same ascent as last year, we could be looking at one of the better seasons by a UNC player in recent memory.

Sam: What else can be said about Harrison Barnes? The kid is on the cover of Sports Illustrated, ESPN The Magazine and SLAM (with the rest of the team). I know I’ve missed some others but those are off the top of my head. He has all the physical tools, he’s a determined, hard worker, and he’s a sophomore (aka not a freshman). There’s a lot to like. It’s probably the pessimist in me that wants to see him play before anointing him after last year’s start, but really, there’s no reason for concern. The biggest jump in skill for college players is usually between freshman and sophomore year, and Harrison’s skill was already undeniable. Without the undue pressure of saving the Carolina program, Barnes could very well be the player of the year he strives to be. When I think about the clutch moments last year and his outburst against Clemson, that’s the real Black Falcon. Let’s hope he shows up to every game this year.

Benn: HB deserves the hype he receives. Just to knock him down a peg though, his ball handling needs to improve. Watching him dribble last season (especially at the beginning) looked downright unnatural at times. It was mystifying to see such a highly-touted guard/forward with such little presence. But really though, dude is a player. He’s ready to step up and hit big shots – and has already done so – and thrives when he takes control. He just needs to make sure not to forget those around him. I think Kendall Marshall takes care of the ball distribution though.