|Harrison Barnes, National Player of the Year Candidate? Teammate John Henson says yes, but some ACC media members don't see it. Robert Willett photo.|
The funny thing about that is there’s a large segment of media members and fans who think that Harrison Barnes wouldn’t be worthy of a spot on the All-ACC first-team, let alone deserve to be in the national player of the year discussion.
Barnes was on my mid-season All-ACC team – the first team – and I engaged in some healthy debate with other members of the ACC press corps who didn’t believe he was deserving of first team. The knock on Barnes is that he’s not an overly impressive defender and that no one area of his game stands out as much as his scoring.
Still, I’d find it extremely difficult to leave him off my first team if I had a vote (and, for the record, I don’t). Barnes has scored at least 20 points in seven of UNC’s 12 conference games, and he has most often done his best work in the second half, when the Heels need his contributions the most.
Barnes was clutch in the second halves of victories at Virginia Tech, at Maryland and at Miami – and UNC trailed in the second half in all of them – and if not for Austin Rivers’ 3 and Duke’s improbable comeback in Chapel Hill, it would have been Barnes’ 19 second-half points on a gimpy left ankle that would have created headlines the next day (that was my story until the final minutes happened).
-- Andrew Carter