Barnes to UNC

AMES, Iowa --- The stage was set for the nation's top high school basketball player.

With the pep band, cheerleaders and entire Ames (Iowa) High student body looking on, Harrison Barnes, a 6-foot-7, 210-pound senior small forward, ended his highly publicized recruitment by placing a video conference call to the winning coach.

"Can hear us?" North Carolina coach Roy Williams said as he appeared on the video screen. "We got the whole team here."

"I just wanted to let you guys know that I'll be joining you guys on the squad and I can't wait to play," Barnes responded.

Barnes' press conference brought the end to a drama filled, closely followed recruitment that included a number of the nation's finest programs – Kansas, North Carolina, Duke, UCLA, Oklahoma and Iowa State.

After taking official visits to five of the schools and an unofficial trip to the hometown school – Iowa State – Barnes set his press conference date last week.

"I have loved getting to know the players and coaching staff at North Carolina," Barnes said during the press conference. "I'm so privileged to be able to go play for Coach Williams. I think he's a great teacher of the game. More than that I like the academic plan they had for me."

Barnes is the type of rare prospect that many -- including's National Recruiting Director Dave Telep – believe has the talent to impact a championship caliber team his freshman season.

"I think he can make an impact for a team looking to win the whole thing," Telep said. "He sharpens everyone's mental focus, ramps up the intensity and creates high expectations for himself and the program."

As a freshman, not many would have predicted this.

At that time, Barnes was a 6-foot-3, 14-year-old basketball player playing for a small town school. Barnes was unranked, unknown and undeveloped. But slowly that changed.

"I'd be lying if I said I knew [he would be this good], Ames High basketball coach Vance Downs said. "We just knew that he was really good. At an early age we knew that he wasn't going to have to pay for his college education, but did we know that he was the best player in the nation? No. I'd be lying if I said I knew that."

So how'd he get there? Well, a growth spurt helped, but it was his gym rat nature that led to his jump to the top spot in's rankings.

"He's passionate about working hard and he's coachable," Down added. "He's got a work ethic second to none. He's such a polite young man and so appropriate at all times, but when it comes to game time it's like a switch turns on. He's as competitive as any kid I've ever been around."

Barnes joins top 25 prospects Kendall Marshall and Reggie Bullock to make up North Carolina's 2010 class.

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