"I left after a half day of school and got there on Friday night," said Barnes. "I had a chance to meet the players, coaches, and support staff which really good. On Saturday I got a chance to meet with their academic advisors and tour the campus before heading to Late Night where they raised the banner. It was pretty impressive from a recruit's point of view."
And was seeing the Jayhawks raise a championship banner the highlight of the trip for Barnes?
"It was impressive, but the main thing that stuck out was the overall atmosphere surrounding the program. Just the way they could sell out their first practice of the season when the students weren't there really shows how many people care about Kansas basketball."
Now, a week later, Barnes will make a similar trip to Durham looking to get a general overview of head coach Mike Krzyzewski's program after weeks of conversation with the gold medal winner.
"I've talked with the coaches frequently and the thing that sticks about them is that they are very intelligent people - they understand life beyond basketball and the importance of getting a degree. They think I have the potential to be successful on and off the court. Coach K really likes that I am a student athlete first and a basketball player second. You can't play basketball forever and he understands that."
Success has already come on the court where Barnes is rated as the nation's top small forward and the number three overall prospect according to Scout.com. As a sophomore Barnes led his high school team to a 20-3 overall records before losing in the Class 4A substate finals. In those 23 contests Barnes averaged 17 points and eight rebounds per game. Such a performance continued throughout the summer on the AAU circuit which resulted in every high major program in the country calling to offer a scholarship. However, as he's begun to move through the recruiting process Barnes has focused on schools that fit a certain criteria.
"I want to find a program where the coaches have my best interest at heart. A school where the coaches will help make sure I am taking the right classes to graduate on time with a degree that I can use. I want them to help me develop on the court, but also to do well off the court."
Being familiar with the Blue Devil coaching staff is one thing, but Barnes has yet to see the campus and is looking forward to learning more about the Duke campus.
"The coaches have talked to my mom about a schedule, but I am not aware of all the details at this point. Right now I'm going to focus on being open minded. If I go in with preconceived notions or expectations it could limit my experience, which would take away from the actual visit. I am looking forward to meeting the players and getting to know them a bit more. I am assuming they are going to show me around and I'll have a chance to sit down with their academic support staff to get an idea of how to balance school and basketball and to see just what a Duke degree means."
While meeting the current roster is important to him, Barnes acknowledges that should he commit to Duke he would probably only play with a few members of the current roster when he arrives. However, he's pretty familiar with the future roster as well.
"I'm actually pretty good friends with both Josh Hairston and Andre Dawkins. I met Josh last year at NBA Camp and the NIke Hoop Jamboree, and got to know Andre pretty well at the LeBron James Camp. Both of them are really great guys. I've talked with Coach K about how I fit in with them."
Over the summer Barnes was described by Scout.com National Recruiting Director Dave Telep as a prospect who can glide to the basket and adjust in midair as required, while also being equipped with a "textbook" jumper. Despite the high praise, Barnes says he has much to work on.
"I need to continue to improve my ball handing and my overall perimeter game. I play more of a post game for my high school team, which actually helps me when I get to summer ball because I know how to exploit smaller matchups. Before I get to the next level I need to continue to work on that, and in the classroom I need to make sure I have good study habits while also making sure I am taking the right amount of classes so I can properly balance things."