The Wait Continues…
I sincerely hoped that my next post would be a celebration of Harrison Barnes’ official announcement, yet it was not meant to be. There was, however, a letter to the editor in today’s Daily Tar Heel enumerating the reasons why Harrison should stay and imploring him to do so. The letter is worth mentioning, mostly due to its stark contrast to a similarly themed letter written by a Dookie who took a very different approach to unsuccesfully pleading with Kyrie Irving.
I am not in the habit of making generalizations based on two individuals’ perspectives, and I do not intend to do so here, even though the Dookie was a Chronicle columnist, not a random student. But if Irving read this column, he no doubt leaves Duke feeling a bit patronized by its student body, perhaps in the same way Elton Brand once felt in a similar situation. The column makes no effort to understand Irving’s situation, instead portraying his consideration of the NBA draft as unambiguously short-sighted and stupid. To arrive at such an absurd perspective on the decision, the author laughably misrepresents Irving’s draft prospects, comparing the likely top overall pick to William Avery, a Duke player who left early a decade ago and was selected on the fringe of the lottery. I understand the light-hearted tone of the column and respect greatly its main points on the superiority of college basketball. But making your best player feel like an idiot wasn’t necessary to communicate those ideals.
Today’s letter, by contrast, did not attempt to make a difficult decision seem easy, and it does not speak to Harrison as if he is a child about to make an immature and catastrophic mistake, and therefore the author deserves credit for a sophisticated and respectful plea. It is, however, not without its problems, not in style but in its evidence.
Kemba Walker will not go second in the draft, but down near the bottom of the top ten. The only players in the draft with a prayer of being selected ahead of Barnes are Irving and Derrick Williams, and only Irving has declared. Barnes and Williams are viewed as a toss-up for the #2 spot, playing similar positions, and much of the decision would depend on which team is selecting second. Moreover, if the Washington Wizards win the lottery, they will not select Irving having already selected John Wall a year ago to play point. In that scenario, Barnes would have a very real chance at being the top pick.
More importantly, he really cannot improve upon this by staying a year. Next season he will be in the same position, jockeying for the top pick with Anthony Davis, Austin Rivers, and Jared Sullinger.
The good news though: the other evidence adduced by the letter’s author seems to matter more to Barnes; he would have decided by now otherwise. He wants to cut down the nets in 2012, and its for that reason only that we are hearing rumors of his return.