Barnes Stays Focused On Task

It would be easy for any 16 year old kid to get caught up in the hype of being ranked as one of the top five basketball players in the country. However, that's not an option for Ames (IA) High standout Harrison Barnes.

The six-foot-seven inch junior wing is committed to doing everything in his power to help his team achieve their goal of winning a state championship while just being one of the guys.

With a posse that consists of approximately two people (his mother and sister), Harrison Barnes is as down to Earth and “regular” as a player in his position could possibly be. Of course, that hasn’t stopped opposing crowds from targeting him at times.

“I feel that, yes, I am a marked man at times,” said Barnes of some extra treatment given to him by fans of other schools. “But, I don’t worry to much about it. I know that I’m just one of five when we step out there so I just go out there and try to push it aside.”

Many star players talk about being a team player, but Barnes is sincere about it. He’s sworn off discussing his recruitment until the season is over, expects no preferential treatment and does everything that is asked of him.

Driven to succeed on and off the floor, Barnes is the total package. He has size, athleticism, shooting ability and well rounded all around game. Sometimes, it’s easy to forget that he’s just 16 and that’s something that his high school coach Vance Downs sees every day.

“What adds to his succcess level is his passion for the game of basketball,” says Downs of Barnes. “The young man is obviously talented but he works extremely hard, as hard as anybody I’ve ever seen. What people don’t know is that he’s just a kid. He handles himself so well with the press and with adults and everything.

“But, let’s remember that he’s still a teenager and there’s still a lot of fun in that kid.”

So far this season, Ames has raced out to an 8-0 start and sits atop the state rankings. The Little Cyclones are balanced, have depth off the bench and a guy that they can count on to take over when needed in Barnes.

The junior credits his improvement on the perimeter for helping to take his game to the next level.

“I think the biggest difference in my game would be that I’ve improved my perimeter skills,” Barnes told Phog.Net. “I’m more aggressive too. I’m not as hesitant to shoot and I think my overall game has improved from my shooting to passing to rebounding.”

With his status as one of the most highly recruited juniors in the country, Barnes has had his fair share of people looking to get into his ear. Grounded and humble, he’s easily shaken off those without his best interests at heart and he’s kept his inner circle pretty tight.

“I just pay attention to the people that are trying to make me better,” says Barnes. “It’s the people who are providing me insight. I don’t need people to tell me how good I am or that I’m going to be this or that. I need people to instruct me and who will let me know what I need to get better at.”

It’s that passion to get better that his high school coach counts as Barnes biggest strength.

“I know it’s a bit of a boring answer. But, I think his biggest strength is his passion to get better, I really do,” says Downs. “Whatever he needs to work on or is told that he needs to work on, he’ll attack that deficit with tremendous intensity.”

Now into the heart of the high school season, Barnes is looking to end his junior season in a big way. After that, he’ll start to think about his recruitment again. Until then, though, it’s all about Ames High.

“Right now my primary focus is just winning a state championship,” finishes Barnes. “All my power and energy and focus are being put into that. I think after the high school season, which will hopefully end on a good note, then I will start to focus on recruiting again. But right now, I’m just focused on Ames basketball.” Top Stories