I believe ESPN's Skip Bayless coined the term “clutch gene”, so I must give credit where credit is due. I like that term because players are born with the ability to perform in the clutch. It's not a trait you can teach.
Harrison Barnes is a player that was blessed with the clutch gene.
Remember the game-tying 3-pointer with 12.7 seconds left on the clock against Texas last year? It's easily forgotten because the game ended in a loss. I haven't forgotten because that was my first sighting of the Barnes clutch gene.
In more memorable moments, how about the last-second wins versus Miami and Florida State last year? He buried a 3-pointer with 6.6 seconds left to break the 71-71 tie and beat the Hurricanes in Miami. Down 69-70 in Tallahassee, Barnes hit a 3-pointer with just 3.1 ticks on the clock, pulling off a 72-70 win over Florida State.
And who could forget the overtime win against the Clemson Tigers, during the ACC Tournament? Harrison Barnes scored 40 points that day to set a freshman tournament record. The Tar Heels had to rally from seven down with just four minutes remaining. With 1:23 left in regulation, Barnes dropped another three on the Tigers to pull within two points. Later, Tyler Zeller would tie it up in regulation, but it was all Harrison Barnes in overtime.
Not only did he score 14 of North Carolina's 19 points in overtime, he even added four rebounds to his stat column in those five minutes. Barnes struggled early in this game, but when his team needed him the most, he stepped up and carried them on his shoulders.
We saw a little taste of that in the latest game against the Miami Hurricanes. Outside of Barnes, the team was shooting 34 percent from the floor and couldn't get anything going. He sparked the rally with a 3-point play, as he was fouled on a lay-up. 31 seconds later, he hit the go-ahead 3-pointer and the Tar Heels never looked back. Barnes added another five points before he went cold again, but by that time the rest of the team had caught fire and it was lights out for Miami.
I'm sure there will be many more memorable moments to come, as Harrison Barnes and the North Carolina Tar Heels make their run through the ACC and NCAA Tournaments. I wish we could just freeze time and keep this kid in Carolina blue. But all good things must come to an end and, so too, shall his career as a Tar Heel.
In the meantime, let us all enjoy the magic carpet ride that is Harrison Barnes—and hope for a title before he rides off into the sunset.