1-on-1 with Harrison Barnes

WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. --- Scanning the attendees at the CP3 Elite Guard Camp, one stands above the rest - literally. Harrison Barnes, at 6-8, joined a group of standout college guards over the weekend in order to refine his perimeter skills. During a break in the action, Barnes gave InsideCarolina.com an exclusive interview ...

Why did you decide to come to this camp?
"I'm here to develop my guard skills. When you have the opportunity to be around somebody like Chris Paul you can always learn so much from him. That's what I'm trying to do."

"I'm here to develop my guard skills."
What can you learn from a three-day camp like this?
"You can learn a lot. We were talking today about learning how to drive to the rim. And then a little bit about ball screens and the end of the work out. There are just so many nuances of the game you can learn from a point guard like Chris."

What has Coach Williams asked you to work on during the summer?
"Working on my ball-handling was definitely a big thing. There are a lot of other things such as shot selection, efficiency and assist-to-turnover ratio that I need to improve for us to be successful next year."

Have you ever been around a team this close and how much of a role did chemistry play in last season's success?
"This is probably the closet team I've ever been on. I think a lot of that is attributed to the fact that we were in so many battles together, that brought us closer. In terms of chemistry, it was always there. It started with us all living together at Ram Village (an apartment-style dormitory on South Campus) and that translated onto the court."

What process did you use to cope with the Kentucky loss?
"I think it's a matter of understanding it. Being able to look at the tape, understand what you did wrong and going on from there and improving on that. I looked at the tape pretty quickly after we lost the game, some people waited a couple of weeks to look at it. Everyone's different in how they review, but everyone's seen it and we can use it heading into next year."

UNC is likely to be the No. 1 ranked team in the country when the season starts in November. Are you already feeling pressure from that and, if so, how are you handling it?
"After this year, it definitely showed us that rankings don't mean a lot. We were No. 8, then fell all the way out of the top 25 and then came back in at the end of the season. Rankings don't mean a whole lot, it's a matter of being consistent and coming out to play every night."

"This is probably the closet team I've ever been on."
What's the pick-up game experience been like this year?
"It's unbelievable and very competitive every day. Guys like Raymond Felton, Rasheed Wallace, Dave Noel, Jackie Manuel have been playing and then a bunch of other guys will be coming this week for our camp games. It's very intense and I think that's where a lot of Carolina players make big strides."

What do you know about the 2011 recruiting class? What can they add?
"I'm very close with a lot of those guys. I think the biggest thing they're going to be able to learn is how to do things the right way. Last year we had such a young team, we just had to learn on the fly. We didn't have those senior year guys who had been there before. They'll be able to learn from us, see how we do things and I think they'll learn quickly and be able to contribute."

Are you trying to take more of a leadership role on next year's team?
"Yeah, there's no question. Now that we've been around, the role I played at the end of the year last year, I want to improve on that and make it larger."

Let's go back to one of the best performances of your freshman season – the Clemson game in the ACC tournament. What was your mindset like in the second half of that game?
"We knew we had to play well in the ACC tournament to have a good NCAA run. I felt that us, after our performance in the first game (against Miami), there's no way we could've lost the second game. I was just trying to do everything I could to ensure we won."

What was the deciding factor in the decision to return to UNC for your sophomore season? When did you decide?
"I don't know if there is a specific instance when I knew for sure. I was leaning in both directions at some point. It's just a matter of coming back and developing my game. There's no rush to get to the NBA and being in college another year is just going to allow me to develop myself."

"(The pickup games have been) unbelievable and very competitive every day."
Did the threat of a NBA lockout impact your decision?
"No question. You have to take that into consideration, but you also have to take into consideration where you're going to get drafted. There are a lot of things that went into the decision."

Do you still do your legendary 6 a.m. workouts?
"It's different now – my schedule is obviously a little different. When I get back to Iowa I have nothing to do, I can get up at 6 a.m. It may be a late-night workout, it may be an early-morning workout, it just depends when I can get the time in. There's so much going on with lifting, competitive pickup, class work, school, finals on Monday. You just have to get workouts in whenever you can."

From last year's team, who's impressed you the most during pickup games?
"I'd probably say John Henson. He's definitely worked on his body, put on weight and gotten stronger. He's able to make better moves at the rim and he's actually come a long way."

With all the awards you've won and attention you've received, how do you stay grounded?
"My faith in God. Everything I am is because of him. I'm very blessed to be able to go out there and play the game I love."

What's the single, biggest key to winning a national championship next year?
"Consistency. We were consistent at the end of the season and that's why we made a big run. Earlier in the season when we struggled, we weren't consistent. It's a matter of simply going out and playing every game as that game and not worrying about anything else."

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