Sunday, April 1st the Better Business Bureau of Atlanta named former high school phenom, and current University of North Carolina star, Harrison Barnes, its “Entrepreneur of the Year.” In a post published yesterday, Shane Ryan, a staff writer for Grantland, gave a rundown of the annual NCAA basketball awards. Ryan reported;
“Harrison Barnes won Entrepreneur of the Year, an award he invented and strong-armed the Better Business Bureau into presenting at an Embassy Suites conference center in Atlanta.”
Barnes has generated a considerable amount of backlash for his 20-61 shooting performance in the 2012 NCAA tournament. Barnes has also caught a lot of flak for an interview with Atlantic Magazine, where he stated in clear terms that he is most interested in the business aspects of basketball. The interview, combined with his poor performance in the tournament, has lead sports writers to point out Barne’s apparent lack of a first step, his inability to create his own shot, and his soft defense.
I have two thoughts on this subject; though the award is fictitious, it is refreshing to see an “NCAA Student Athlete” who is thinking about more than basketball. Lately, the mission and tactics of the NCAA have come under heavy fire from the national media. Perhaps the BBB could give a real award to student athletes with a strong business focus in the future.
Secondly, give the kid a break. It’s incredible that the number one basketball recruit in the country came from Ames, Iowa. I played prep ball at a 4-A school in Colorado’s eastern plains. During my illustrious career, I fed the ball to some A level talent, including a Colorado Mr. Basketball, and a 6’5” twig who started throwing down the hardest, nastiest dunks I’ve seen to date in summer league games between 7th and 8th grade.
Our Mr. Basketball was cut from a D-II team, and transferred to CU so that I could continue to lob him soft, backdoor oop passes in B-league intermural games. Our Blake Griffin was flagged by the NCAA clearinghouse sophomore year, sat out with eligibility issues most of his junior and senior year, and wound up at a small college in Idaho with no basketball team. My basketball career ended when I was cut from a D-III team in central Arkansas.
My point is, there’s a huge difference between the defense Barnes faced in high school, and the defense he’s facing in college. In fact, before Barnes, I had never even heard of a (male) player from a public 4-A school making a successful transition to D-I basketball. Imagine the difference in pace between the basketball played at Ames High School, and the Basketball played at UNC.
Certainly, his performance in the 2012 NCAA tournament has raised some questions about his future as an NBA superstar, but this 19 year-old hoops star has already accomplished so much. I vote that we applaud his achievements, instead of questioning the viability of an NBA career.
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