The 6-foot-6, 195-pound four-star prospect averaged 17 points per game and eight rebounds last season for Ames High School and has been a key component to the success of his AAU team, the All-Iowa Attack.
Going 12-5 through the team's first three tournaments, including a quarterfinal appearance in the Real Deal on the Hill Tournament at the University of Arkansas and playing in the 17U division in the King James Tournament, Barnes led the Attack to the final four in the silver division of the heralded King James Tournament.
"I think these games allow me to see where my skills are and to give myself the confidence that I can hang with these guys and show me where I need to progress," Barnes told Badger Nation. "Our team has great chemistry and we really like each other as a unit."
Playing in some of the top tournaments in the country on the AAU circuit, the sophomore's skills have been tested against some of the best players in the Midwest, including Jamil Wilson and Wisconsin 09 recruit Diamond Taylor. Although doing many positives, Barnes realizes that there is a lot to improve upon as he continues to grow.
"I think it would be hard to identify a strength for myself," Barnes said. "I am pleased with my free throw shooting but my weaknesses are little things with my defense. My defense on the ball and simple things like blocking out, contesting a shot with my right hand and correctly sliding with the ball all need to get better."
Although having some defensive shortcomings, the recruiting process has already picked up for Barnes. Already holding offers from Indiana State, Iowa and Iowa State, Barnes is receiving lots of interest from Wisconsin, including plenty of phone calls from Close and head coach Bo Ryan.
"He's a very funny guy," Barnes said of Ryan. "We talked a little about basketball but we talked about his recruiting in general and their interest in me. We were talking and laughing and having a good time. He's very personal and it was a very good conversation."
Growing up in Ames, Barnes has had plenty of opportunities to visit the Iowa State campus and make the 140-mile journey east to Iowa City and has liked what he's seen. He also is looking forward to a summer trip to Madison, as Barnes as read nothing but good things about the Madison campus.
"Each school offers their own opportunities to what they can provide," Barnes said. "I've grown up here (in Ames) my whole life and I've been to the Iowa State campus many of times and it's a nice campus. I made a trip down to the Iowa campus three times and they have a nice campus and a nice arena. I've yet to go to Indiana State or Wisconsin but I plan to get to Madison this summer.
"From the research I've done, they have a very nice basketball facilities with a lot of academic opportunities," Barnes added of Wisconsin. "It seems like a nice environment to be a student-athlete in."
Although it would seem that all the schools are competing for Barnes' services against Iowa State, especially with his mother working at the university, Barnes insists that he is going to go through the process and make the decision that is right for him, no matter how long it takes to make the right one.
"I would say that Iowa State, who I've grown up watching my entire life, will always be in a special category for me," Barnes said. "But I will be looking at all the schools on the same plane and which one offers me the best chance to develop as a player and what schools provide the best situation after basketball."