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UNC-Duke Rivalry Moves To Ames, IA

Last night Ames, IA became the latest stop on the UNC-Duke Rivalry Train with both Roy Williams and Mike Krzyzewski making in-home visits with class of 2010 #1 player Harrison Barnes within two hours of each other. Jim Young at ACC Sports has the scoop:

A source close to the UNC coaching staff has confirmed to recruiting analyst Brick Oettinger that Roy Williams and Mike Krzyzewski both had in-home visits with Barnes this evening.

According to the source, Krzyzewski was expected to visit Barnes first in the early evening, with Williams coming in two hours later.

This is a twist in the plot line, as it had been expected that Duke would have the last in-home visit with Barnes.

Just to set the stage here. October 5th was the final day of the contact period which is a span of time set by the NCAA in which coaches may be in contact with recruits whether that be in-home visits, talking to them on the phone etc. This is followed by an evaluation period where a coach might visit the prospect's school to watch them practice or play but not make contact with them apart from letters and phone calls. Now with all that in mind, here is what is happening between UNC, Duke and Harrison Barnes:

  • Duke scheduled what they thought would be the last in-home contact with Barnes on the evening of October 5th which would constitute them getting the last word in as far as the fall contact period goes.
  • At the last minute, Roy Williams flew to Iowa and was able to secure a 2nd in-home visit with the Barnes family two hours after Mike Krzyzewski left the jurisdiction.

By itself this is interesting business but couple these moves with Barnes' upcoming visit schedule and you understand why Roy felt it necessary to make the 2nd in-home visit(an unusual move, most schools only take one.) Barnes is scheduled to be at Duke on October 23rd for his official on-campus visit. Every recruit gets five and Barnes took his at UNC during the first weekend in September which coincided with the Pro Alumni Game. While Barnes has other visits schedule between now and October 23rd as well as one or two after that, Duke's plan was likely to have Barnes ear on the latest possible day of the contact period and then speak to him on campus 18 days later. In theory Duke would have Barnes undivided attention by being the last school he talked to at the conclusion of the contact period then bring him to campus. Overall it was a sound plan until Roy decided to trump it by swooping into Ames last night and making another visit with the family.

Young at ACC Sports points out that the Barnes family had to approve Roy's visit. This is not a case of the UNC coach sitting in his rental car outside of the house waiting for someone to take the dog for a walk and working his way inside. Now there is a strong possibility Billy Donavan was sitting in his rental car outside the Barnes' house doing exactly that but with Roy something was arranged ahead of time. The question is who initiated the contact to setup the last in-home visit? Did Roy make the first move or did the Barnes family decide to have Roy over again? As Young points out, Roy and UNC have made an incredibly good impression on Barnes' mother who is also a huge Michael Jordan fan. There were also unconfirmed rumors that Barnes' mother did not care for the atmosphere at Cameron during an unofficial visit there this past basketball season. I have no idea if that is true but I do know that Roy often develops a great rapport with prospect's parents and that appears to be the case here.

The bottom line? Who knows. It can be spun either way as Young points out but you have to think UNC is in great position especially since Duke has been in Barnes' ear for a very long time and UNC has basically been recruiting him in earnest since April. No matter how this turns out you cannot say Roy Williams was outworked or did not make every effort to secure Barnes' services. UNC and Duke rarely go head-to-head for recruits so watching this unfold adds another layer to rivalry that already had a zillion to begin with.