When the Scout.com team of national recruiting analysts convene to discuss new rankings, they probably won't get more than one bite of pizza into the discussion before the name Harrison Barnes gets listed first.
Barnes, a 6-6 junior WF at Ames (Iowa) High, was the signature player at last weekend's Boo Williams Invitational, an event that featured many contenders for that honor. Playing with the Howard Pulley Panthers, Barnes did everything on the court a coach ever would ask a player to do.
He scored, passed, rebounded, blocked shots, took charges, played tough defense, encouraged his teammates and never complained to coach, teammate, opponent or referee. Those accolades may sound like puffery, but in fact those sentiments were echoed throughout the Boo Williams Sportsplex all weekend long.
For that reason, Barnes has laid claim to the top spot in the class and may have created a stranglehold on the position. And while a lot of players blow off the significance of being No. 1, Barnes wants that add that accomplishment to his overall portfolio.
"Becoming the No. 1 player in the class is definitely one goal of mine," Barnes said. "I'm a very competitive person, so that ranking does mean something to me."
Of course, the basketball world tends to be less curious about a player's perspective on his own achievements and far more consumed with his thoughts about colleges. You could see proof of that after every game, when the mild-mannered (off the court) wing gracefully tolerated the constant swarming of reporters all trying to jump inside his head for just a few minutes.
Thankfully, Barnes has a mature perspective on that phenomenon as well.
"The media stuff just comes with the territory of being in basketball and going to events," Barnes said. "I like getting to have relationships with the big-time coaches, and the other stuff comes along with that."
So, what about that school list?
Barnes maintains a steady list of contenders and says he won't narrow that list until he has a few weeks to ponder the options. At this point, primary names out of his mouth are Duke, Kansas, Iowa State, North Carolina, Florida and Texas, although at this point the list remains large and flexible.
Speculation in recent weeks has been that the Blue Devils lead and that the Jayhawks lurk in the No. 2 position, while UNC is hoping to capitalize on the momentum from its national championship.
But Barnes isn't a conventional kid and insists that there should be no assumptions.
"I really do see all the schools as equal," he said. "Growing up, I didn't watch much college basketball because I liked to watch the NBA, so I didn't really follow the traditional powers. Even if it's a great school, their system may not be for me."
Barnes was weary to discuss specifics of the schools on his list but said that he wanted to get the elimination process started in time to decide in the fall. He plans to take as many official visits as necessary and doesn't mind leaving the region in order to find the best fit.
"Mostly, I'm looking for a very good academic institution and a place where I can win a national championship," he said. "I also need to feel like I'm at home."
Barnes will be a busy young man this spring and summer. He'll attend Nike circuit travel events with Howard Pulley, and he'll also attend some events -- including the Jayhawk Invitational -- with All-Iowa Attack. Additionally, he plans to attend the NBA Top 100 Camp and other individual camps.