Last year I wrote a piece on how 2010 consensus #1 high school recruit Harrison Barnes should shun the glitz and glamor of national powerhouses, like the North Carolina Tar Heels, and play for his hometown Iowa St. Cyclones.
I would argue now though that if you are a Clones fan these days you are happy he didn't choose ISU.
It didn't start out like that. On the day Barnes signed his letter of intent to play in Chapel Hill screams from Ames could be heard as far away as Council Bluffs (I am not sure if that is far or not, just really the only other Iowa town I have heard of). People were outraged. Their favorite son was leaving home, and probably wouldn't be coming back.
It was the freshman dumping his middle-school girlfriend for a senior class hotty.
It was the pig farmer's son going vegan.
It was a slap in the face.
Then October rolled around and look who is the first freshman to ever make an All-America team, Barnes. Everyone was falling for the 6'8" forward. Everyone but ISU fans.
And what does Barnes do in his second career game? He goes for 19 points and seven rebounds. THE SKY IS THE LIMIT!
Well, to quote Lee Corso "Not so fast my friend."
In his third game Barnes went 0-12 from the field and ended with six points in a UNC loss to the Minnesota Golden Gophers. And the five games that followed he took 82 shots, making just 28, accounting for a 34 percent shooting percentage.
Now ESPN has come out with their pre-conference grades of the All-American team, and our friend Barnes received an F.
So why should this make ISU fans happy, some of whom know Barnes personally?
The way I see it, had Barnes decided to stay home and be the BMOC in his hometown, he probably would have gone through the same growing pains he is going through now.
The difference is that he doesn't have the Carolina Blue jersey to fall back on. What I mean is that had Barnes fallen as hard as he has fallen - with "experts" now advising that he stay in college an additional year, something nobody would have thought at this time last season - as a Cyclone the national media would have pounded into the ground this idea that 1) he made the wrong decision in not going to a "name" school and 2) that ISU is no place for a superstar to go.
However, since he is trying to figure out the college game on the East Coast, with an impenetrable marquee program, the pain isn't felt like it would in a borderline program. Nobody is hinting that he should have gone someplace else.
So while there might still be some residual disdain for Barnes' decision by Clones faithful, if you look at the situation now, the program might be stronger not having him on the court.
(And just so you know, I looked up the Ames to Council Bluffs commute on Google Maps and found it is a 2.5 hour drive or 2 day, 2 hour walk).