Jeff Reiners, a blogger who lives in Iowa and writes The Pete Myers Rules (a blog that often waxes poetic about days gone by in the NBA, such as when Charles Barkley was known as a stud power forward and not for being a complete buffoon), has written an extensive post about his journey to see Ames, Iowa high school basketball star Harrison Barnes (SF, 6’7″, 2010), a UNC commit and possibly the #1 pick in the 2011 draft.
The journey to see Barnes in person is detailed, down to the stumbling up the stairs to the top of the Wells Fargo arena in a slightly inebriated state, the sets that the Ames High School team employs and how Barnes is used. It makes a strong visual, particularly if you’ve seen Ames play this season:
They basically try to bait teams into throwing lazy passes to the middle of the floor where Barnes lurks. Barnes’ job is to play the passing lanes and use his amazing quickness to pick off passes and head the other way for dunks.
Barnes effect on the games this season has been to pull the focus of the defense on him and free up several other Ames players, and Ames is not a one man show. Souix City East, Ames’ opponent, finally tried to slow down the Ames offense by taking the air out of the ball:
Sioux City East really jammed on the brakes in the 2nd quarter as the pace slowed to a crawl. It worked in that it prevented Ames from going on a huge run (they only scored 7 points) but they also stopped themselves from scoring (East totaled 2 points the entire 2nd quarter).
But even without a shot clock and perched high in the rafters, finally everyone got what they wanted to see from Barnes:
He caught an outlet pass at half court with a defender right in his path. He dribbled hard from half court all the way to the right side of the lane. Once there he planted, crossed over to his left leaving his defender in the dust, took off about a step inside the free throw line, hung for that extra half second and finished over the rim with one hand. Very rare to see a high schooler that can sky like that.
Barnes’ run is described here are length, but it’s only a snippet of the phenom he has become and the attention he’s brought to Iowa.