Summer Q&A: Harrison Barnes

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. -- North Carolina sophomore Harrison Barnes answered questions on Tuesday as a part of UNC's summer press conference ...

Will you watch the draft on Thursday?

Yeah, I'll watch it.

Have you checked in with Kyrie Irving about it?

Yeah, he's looking forward to it, obviously. It's a big day for him, a life-changing decision. It will be fun for us to kind of see our classmates - me, Kendall [Marshall] and Reggie [Bullock] - we went to school with those guys a year ago. We just had the McDonald's game and the Jordan game with those guys, and now some of those guys are going to get drafted. It will be kind of surreal to see that.

When you see the No. 1 overall pick, will you think ‘that could have been me?'

You can't live in the past, and you can't wonder ‘what if.' You can only just wonder about this upcoming season. I'll watch that, but definitely my focus is on college basketball.

A little less of a hypothetical: The Cavaliers had talked about maybe trying to get you and Kyrie with their two high first-round picks. Did you ever think about the possibility of both of you guys coming from here and ending up with the same NBA team?

It's funny you say that. Kyrie and I actually talked about that during my decision process about Cleveland having two picks. Then I asked him, ‘Who would go No. 1?' He just laughed. That would have been fun to be able to play with him. He's one of my best friends. I consider him my brother, and we're very close. To be on the same team with him in the NBA would be great.

What's the biggest part of your game you're working on this summer?

Ball handling. Just being able to add that dimension of getting it off the backboard and being able to push it in transition and make a good decision with it and not have to worry about losing my handle. Or just being in an isolation situation and be able to break my defender down.

So do you really go by the nickname Black Falcon? How did that come about, if that is the case?

Yeah, that is true. It's actually on my nameplate in the locker room. Jared Sullinger, Kyrie Irving and myself went to ESPN early for the Jordan game. We all kind of asked for different nicknames because obviously Kobe is the Black Mamba, they call LeBron "King James." Everyone has all those things, so that was the nickname they gave me.

How about the first game of the year? How weird will that be, playing on the carrier where Osama bin Laden's body was pushed into the ocean?

It'll definitely be a very emotional game in terms of the people we'll be playing in front of. It will be limited to our family and the Michigan State family, and but mostly it will be Army and Navy people out there with us. It will be a very emotional day. The biggest thing we're going there to do is just provide entertainment for those guys.

Z and John both talked about the meeting you had at Z's house the night they decided to stay. You took a little longer to decide. How much did their decision to stay influence your decision to stay?

It had a little bit of bearing, knowing that I get to play with these guys for another year. Like I said earlier, these guys are like brothers to me. I love them with all I am. And to be able to go out there and play with them again, there's no better feeling.

How much did the way the season ended last year factor into your decision to return?

It factored into it a lot. We were right on the cusp of being a Final Four team or being a team that was right there. It ended abruptly.

Is it fair to expect or think that you guys can pick up right where you left off, or is it going to be a process that has to start over?

It's going to be a building process. I think if we learned anything from last year, it's about consistency and taking the right steps. I felt like last year we lost some very important games, and I felt like we built off that. We can't just expect to come into this season as an Elite Eight team that just needs to get through the regular season in order to go back to the Elite Eight again.

Was there a light-switch moment for you last year, where it went from people chanting ‘Overrated' at you to you being the ACC rookie of the year?

I don't think there was one distinct moment, but it was just a process. It involved my progression as well as the team's. Every game, we just got a little bit better and a little bit better.

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