Barnes Ready For Challenge of NBA Camp

It's been a wild couple of months for Harrison Barnes. After starting the season highly rated, a strong Spring has vaulted the 6'7 small forward into stardom and the No.1 overall ranking. Every college program is chasing him. So what's the latest with Harrison? TDD sat down with him at the NBA Top 100 Camp to find out.

In his first game out after traveling across the country to prove his value as the top overall prospect, Harrison Barnes got off to a somewhat slow start, but showed flashes of his overall skillset en route to 12 points and four rebounds. It was the first step onto what will, most likely, be the biggest stage of the summer. As always, Barnes may very well have a target on his back when it comes to other players making names for themselves.

"There's always a target on my back," said Barnes. "People are always coming after me. At the same time, the way I try to play, I'm always trying to prove my worth when I step on the court. I'm always trying to show people with my play that I'm worthy of the number one ranking in the class."

One noticeable twist to Barnes' first showing at the Camp was the continual emphasis on taking smaller defenders into the post while also battling with some of the bigger players on the court on the glass.

"That was something I decided to do. I think it's important to showcase different parts of my game. To develop all my skills. Not just showing that I can handle the ball, or just getting to the bucket. Instead it's about reading what the defense gives you, and - in that case - the defense was struggling to defend me in the post. I thought it was where I was most effective and helped my team the most. So I played down low today."

That kind of verstaility is why Barnes can write his own ticket for the next four years - or as long as he decides to play at the collegiate level. Some schools are pitching the idea of Barnes playing a point forward role. Others see him as a slashing wing. Others as a versatile combo forward. As for Barnes' opinion of his game at this point?

"Right now, I just see myself as a player. I'm just trying to be versatile, utilize my skills in a diverse way. I can be prepared for anything when it comes to college, that's why I try real hard to do different things on the court."

One of the schools in the recruiting news surrounding Barnes of late is the Stanford Cardinal and former Duke assistant coach Johnny Dawkins, who hosted an unofficial visit after the Pangos All-Star camp. In his first visit to Palo Alto, the nation's top prospect came away impressed.

"When you're on campus [at Stanford], I would say you're just overwhelmed with the academia feel of it. It's got a lot of prestige and you can tell they really value academics there. That really stuck out to me more than any other school that I've been to. It's no surprise they are rated one of the top academic schools in the country."

The requirement that his program of choice be attached to a strong academic institution is nothing new for Barnes. He's long been associated with that manner of program and has professed a desire to get a degree from such a school. It's something that his parents instilled from an early age. Now, facing one of the biggest decisions of his life, Barnes will once again rely on his parents' guidance.

"The guidance my mom has given me has been instilled in me since I was younger and I value it. She has taught me what's right and what's wrong. She's really blessed me with how similar her thinking is to mine when I'm evaluating schools. I know wherever I decide to go, she's going to support me."

Interview conducted by Steve Clark at NBA Top 100 Camp

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