In-depth and extremely impressive answers from Harrison Barnes. It is even more impressive when you consider Barnes is only a freshmen. It is a long interview so I encourage you to check out the whole thing here. Dan Wiederer, to his credit, asks some very good questions and gets some well thought out answers from Barnes who talks about his individual play in the context of the team and the steep nature of the learning curve in college basketball. Some highlights after the jump.
Wiederer: I heard you say a month or so back that one of the things that was eye-opening to you here is that the coaching at this level is different. How?
Barnes: In high school, I was incredibly close with my coach and we were almost always on the same page. So if I spoke up and said we need to run this, 99.9 percent of the time, we ran it. Quite simply, I had a very active voice on my high school team. And it worked out great. But then I came here and you have to learn to be submissive. Coach Williams is a Hall of Famer. He obviously knows what he's doing and what he's talking about. And he's running a system that he's been using for 22 years. So you have to learn not to be stubborn. You have to listen to the things he says and you have to accept it and you have to remind yourself that he's been doing this longer than you've been alive. He knows what he's doing. And he's going to make me better.
Wiederer: Your high school coach in Ames, Coach (Vance) Downs always said he gave you a voice and that he saw you as sort of like an assistant coach at times. And then when you arrived here, maybe that voice wasn't listened to as much.
Barnes: I suppose that's true. You can ask Coach Williams about that. But it's not as easy as it sounds. It's all about having enough confidence in your game and then the confidence in Coach that he'll make the right decision to put you in the position to succeed. Once you get that figured out, the game becomes a whole lot easier, knowing that he'll take care of that part and all you have to do is go out and play hard.
Contrast that, if you will, with a certain someone who is no longer on the team.
Wiederer: Obviously you got to see the bond and the unity within this program between players and coaches from different generations. Across college basketball, that's pretty rare. Did that catch your attention?
Barnes: It boils down to something called the Carolina Way. I learned about that on my visit and even more so this summer playing with guys like Shammond (Williams), Sean (May), Marvin (Williams), Jawad (Williams), Ty (Lawson.) You could put together any five guys that had played at different times at Carolina and they could all run the plays, they could all talk, they could all play together. That's something you could only get being here. That's the Carolina Way. They were correcting me on little things. 'We do it this way here.' It's kind of a loyalty, a dedication, a way about themselves they all had.
Interesting to note the pickup games are about more than basketball, they are about past players instill the values of the program in the next group of Tar Heels.
Wiederer: Your future is always going to be something that people wonder about. How long are you here and things like that. When you think about that, what do you want to accomplish before it's time to move on?
Barnes: People ask me that question all the time. Growing up, I really never thought about it. I never really thought about the process of getting from point A to point B. I just knew that I wanted to become the best basketball player that I could possibly be. I wanted to be one of those guys who you're always going to hear about when I'm done playing. So when people ask me are you going to be here next year, are you going to be here for three years, are you leaving this spring, it doesn't really matter. I can't really give you a straight answer. I just want to do whatever I need to do to make myself the best basketball player I can be. Maybe at the end of the day, that means I stay here for four years. Maybe I decide to go to grad school here. You never know.
So, Barnes might leave in May or he might be here four years. Or three. Or he doesn't now nor would I expect him to.