Harrison Barnes: NBA Teams Should Take a Chance on Former UNC Star

Josh SchochAnalyst IIIJune 11, 2012

CHAPEL HILL, NC - FEBRUARY 11:  Harrison Barnes #40 of the North Carolina Tar Heels is introduced before a game against the Virginia Cavaliers during play at the Dean Smith Center on February 11, 2012 in Chapel Hill, North Carolina.  (Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images)
Grant Halverson/Getty Images

Harrison Barnes was touted as one of the contenders for the No. 1 overall pick in the 2011 NBA draft coming out of high school, and he remained so after his first year of college. However, the 6'8" small forward returned to college for another season, and he has seen his stock dip.

Barnes now has a lower stock than he did coming out of high school, which is incredibly rare. However, if you look at how he has played during his two years in college you can see that he is worth taking a chance on for any NBA team with a top pick.

Barnes became one of just six players in the history of North Carolina basketball to average at least 15 points per game in each of his first two seasons in college ball.

For his career, Barnes averaged 16.4 points and 5.5 rebounds per game. He shot higher than 35 percent from behind the arc, and, more importantly, learned how to use his size to his advantage.

Barnes has a lot of potential at the next level because of his size and skill-set. His 6'8" frame as a small forward gives him great size, and puts him at the same height as a certain MVP named LeBron James.

Barnes has a great first-step that is underrated by his many critics, which he uses to get by his defender and either hit one of his many pull-up jumpers or penetrate.

The reason that I regard him so highly is that he has one of the best mid-range games in the draft class. He has a smooth release that isn't easily altered, and he knows how to put himself into position to make shots.

During his two years with the Tar Heels he gave the arch-rival Duke Blue Devils problems because he utilized his first step to get by his man and then took pull-up jumpers that he consistently buried.

While he is definitely a raw talent, he might be worthy of the No. 3 pick by the Washington Wizards.

Being picked third overall would be a stretch compared to most mock drafts, but considering that Washington is a few years away from being a contender, the Wizards can wait for him to mature and develop into a star.

There's a reason that this kid was considered the favorite for the No. 1 overall pick in last year's draft, and it is worth the risk to take him with an early pick in the 2012 NBA draft.