When it was announced that Kendall Marshall would be out for the remainder of the tournament halfway through, thousands of brackets (including mine) were ruined as well as UNC's chances at a title in most people's eyes.
Even President Obama knew this wasn't his year after the injury (he picked UNC to win). And rightfully so.
Marshall, who averaged nearly 10 assists on the year, was UNC's leader and playmaker. In anything in life, if no leader is present, dysfunction will come about. And that's what happened in Chapel Hill. Not long after the injury, North Carolina fell to Kansas in a 13-point loss that eliminated them from the tournament.
If there was any human being in this planet that could have changed UNC's tournament status, it's Harrison Barnes. However, for the 2408593th (exaggerated a little) time in his career, Barnes failed to perform. Honestly, the final two games without Marshall really showed Barnes' true colors.
Let's quickly recap Harrison Barnes' two years at North Carolina:
- 1228 points (16.4 PPG)
- Helped UNC to a 58-13 record
- 439-1018 shooting
Not bad right? Not bad for a typical scholarship player I guess.
One of the most promising prospects out of high school since Kevin Durant, Barnes has done nothing to prove he is anything of the sort. For a player once compared to Kobe Bryant, he sure does a good job of hiding his talent.
An extremely weak ball handler, poor shot-creator, and unassertive penetrator, Barnes is really only reliable for his shooting, which is barely above average. Anybody who tries to argue that 16.4 PPG is commendable, especially alongside the best playmaker in college basketball, is ridiculous. Jeremy Lamb, a player very similar to Barnes, averaged 17.7 PPG this year on top of having to deal with a shoot-first point guard in Shabazz Napier (22 PPG).
And despite his mediocre-ness and failure to play up to the level that he was supposed to, everybody seems to think Barnes still has what it takes to make a good pro. No matter what mock draft I check out, Barnes seems to be in the top five—a spot a player of his caliber is nowhere near deserving. Heck, Bradley Beal deserves that spot more than he does.
In the two games that Marshall was out, Barnes had a chance to capitalize and emerge as the temporary leader for that club—instead, he shot 8 for 30 (2 for 14 from beyond the arc) and was unable to help UNC beat Kansas, not to mention barely beating Ohio (overtime).
In just one year at Duke, Austin Rivers has left his mark in history. I'll be surprised if someone remembers that Harrison Barnes went to North Carolina five years from now.