Harrison Barnes: UNC Star Officially Declares for 2012 NBA Draft

Alex KayCorrespondent IMarch 29, 2012

GREENSBORO, NC - MARCH 18:  Harrison Barnes #40 of the North Carolina Tar Heels reacts as he runs down court next to Jahenns Manigat #12 of the Creighton Bluejays in the first half during the third round of the 2012 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament at Greensboro Coliseum on March 18, 2012 in Greensboro, North Carolina.  (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)
Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

Harrison Barnes has officially decided to end his collegiate career with the UNC Tar Heels and declare himself eligible for the 2012 NBA draft, according to the staff at InsideCarolina.com. The official report can be found here

The superstar small forward is projected to go towards the top of the lottery and is one of the best scoring prospects in the class.

Teammates Kendall Marshall and John Henson have decided to join him in declaring early, and Tyler Zeller's eligibility is up. All four are projected to be first-round picks. 

Barnes leaves Chapel Hill with averages of 16.4 PPG, 5.5 RPG, 1.3 APG, 0.9 SPG and 0.4 BPG in 29.3 minutes per contest. He played 75 games with the team.

His announcement doesn’t come as much of a surprise, although back in February he stated his chances of returning were “up in the air” should the Tar Heels fail to capture a national championship, according to Chris Tomasson of FOX Sports Florida.

Of course, the Kansas Jayhawks eliminated North Carolina after a relatively poor tournament overall from Barnes. He had to realize his chances of actually winning the whole thing weren’t much better if he were to return for his junior season.

Barnes’ professional future looks much brighter. As a 6’8”, 215-pound swingman with a natural gift for putting the ball in the basket, he seems extremely likely to become a franchise player in the NBA.

Many scouts and analysts have him going somewhere in the two-to-five overall range, making this decision a financially lucrative one as well.

Keep it tuned to Bleacher Report throughout the day for the latest news, information, updates, opinions and analysis on Harrison Barnes and his decision to turn pro.