I would like to branch out on a topic I read in Dan Shanoff's Wake Up Call (which if you don't read gives you a great daily snapshot on the day that is in sports).
Shanoff asked why Ames, IA product, and consensus #1 recruit, Harrison Barnes, would shy away from his hometown Iowa State Cyclones and learn towards playing basketball at Duke and North Carolina.
Shanoff asks "given that Barnes is obviously a one-and-done player, why not stay home, be The Guy and try to do something special in-state. At Duke or UNC, he's just another star recruit."
I LOVE THIS TRAIN OF THOUGHT!
Barnes is in an atypical situation, one in where he hails from a college-town that hosts a school in a top flight conference. One where the program hasn't had a winning conference record since Barnes was in 7th grade.
Now having grown up in a college town myself, I can tell you that all everyone ever talks about in the city is the school. Mothers and grandmothers, who otherwise wouldn't care about sports know the names of the starting QB and PG at the school. Any day you walk the halls of any high school in a college town you will see 50% of the kids wearing gear from the school. The school is the city and the city is the school.
Barnes has the passion for his home school, even though he might not realize it yet. Regardless of where he goes he will come back to visit friends in the future and go to an ISU football or basketball game. In the very least he will follow them in the papers and talk about them in passing to casual acquaintances.
And forget about how he can help them in his one year, he can help the future of the program as well. He can take the school and put it on the mind of all the AAU and summer camp circuit players he interacts with. If he becomes what they think he might, he can be the greatest recruiting tool the school has ever seen.
Think Michael Beasley and how he put K State on the map. Barnes can do the same thing, but with more credibility because of his local upbringing.
If basketball doesn't pan out, because he will have grown up with everyone in Ames, he will be able to be the poster child for the school, instead of another in a line of "what ifs" If basketball does pan out, then all the more reason why he would want to be the face of a program and school.
And it isn't like he won't get national publicity by staying home. Sure, Dickie V might not scream his name as loud as if he were in the ACC, but Big Monday would pick up an inordinate amount of Cyclones games and he would get his national press when he starts performing.
Now just to clarify, I am not saying that every one and doner should go to a school that has been struggling. I am saying that in Barnes' situation, the clear minded, obvious choice is to remain at home... have some home cooking... hang out with friends for another year... then make the same tens of millions of dollars you would by going to Duke or Carolina.
I don't have any precise stats, but I can't imagine that going to either of the ACC powerhouses increases your draft chances. Last year the first Duke player (Gerald Henderson) went 12th and the top Tar Heel (Tyler Hansbrough) went 13th. This was after kids were drafted out of non-powerhouse schools like Arizona State and Davidson.
The year before nobody was drafted from either school and in 2007 a Tar Heel went #8, but Duke didn't have a name called until the 37th pick... long after NBA commish David Stern had handed over his podium duties.
In that 2007 draft before Josh Roberts' name was called with that 37th pick, players from school such as Washington, Texas A&M, Georgia Tech, Florida State, Eastern Washington, Colorado State, DePaul, Rice, Oregon, Wisconsin, Purdue, Nevada and Alabama were called.
If you are telling me that someone from Eastern Washington could be drafted ahead of the first Blue Devil, I am telling you that your choice of school has zero impact on your draft status.
If Barnes goal was to finish out his degree, that would also be a different story. Duke is one of the top educational institutions in the nation, and Carolina regularly ranks near the top of best public universities, so going to either of those for a degree would make sense. However, from all reports, he wont be there 4 years, and probably wont even make it to his second year, so the educational aspect should have no bearing on his decision.
So, with all that said, I see no reason that Harrison Barnes should attend any university outside of his hometown. Although having him outside of the Big 12 North may give my alma matter, Mizzou, a better chance at 2 more Ws.