Coaches take look at top-rated recruit Barnes

Highlights from college basketball prospect Harrison Barnes' performance for the Howard Pulley Panthers in the 2009 Peach Jam.
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NORTH AUGUSTA --- When Dave Telep was helping organize a camp that invited the top 100 high school basketball players in the country to Virginia last month, he got a call from a participant demanding to be paired against the toughest competition.

Harrison Barnes (center), from Ames, Iowa, has been named the top senior in the nation by Scout.com and ESPN. He had 36 points and 10 rebounds in Monday's game.  Rainier Ehrhardt/Staff
Rainier Ehrhardt/Staff
Harrison Barnes (center), from Ames, Iowa, has been named the top senior in the nation by Scout.com and ESPN. He had 36 points and 10 rebounds in Monday's game.

That would be Harrison Barnes, whom several recruiting analysts consider the best high school basketball player in the country. Part of Barnes' ascension, in addition to his dynamite skill set, has been his preparation toward competition.

"He's one of the only guys I know who actually keeps scouting reports on the guys he's playing against," said Telep, Scout.com's national recruiting analyst, who rates Barnes as the best player in the country. "Harrison Barnes has a skill set, approach, attitude and work ethic that is almost unparalleled in this class."

Barnes' latest stop in his recruiting parade is this week at North Augusta's Peach Jam. Just about every major college coach lined up Monday morning -- Duke brought practically its entire coaching staff: Mike Krzyzewski and assistants Chris Collins and Steve Wojokowski -- to watch Barnes score 36 points and grab 10 rebounds in his team's seven-point win.

Barnes is the event's second-leading scorer and main attraction after Florida point guard Brandon Knight, Rivals.com's top-ranked player, injured his foot Sunday night.

Barnes is listed at 6-foot-8, but his wingspan is nearly seven feet. That's outstanding size for someone Telep said projects to play shooting guard or small forward in college.

After Monday's morning session, Barnes stood at one corner of the court with six recorders jabbed near his face and answered questions in a smooth, direct fashion, showing a maturity that belied his 17 years. His college choice will hinge on the school's academics, its business school and its atmosphere, he said.

Barnes sliced open his left, non-shooting hand Sunday, and some doubted he would be back for the morning games. Did it hurt?

"Not once the adrenaline kicked in," said Barnes, who recently visited Duke and North Carolina, two schools he's considering.

Barnes, who is from Ames, Iowa, is playing this week with the Minnesota-based Howard Pulley Panthers. It's only the third tournament he's played with the team.

"He's getting along great with the guys. They hang out and text all the time," said Antwan Harris, Howard Pulley's coach.

In what seems to be a trend at the Peach Jam, Howard Pulley collapsed into a zone defense during its game, sometimes using Barnes at the point of a 3-2 look.

He scored his 36 points different ways. He dunked twice, both times on putbacks, because he was positioned in the perfect spot near the rim for an offensive rebound.

"His IQ is high enough, he can shoot the 3, go all the way to the rim or pull up for a jumper," said Paul Biancardi, the national director of recruiting for ESPN, which also ranks Barnes as the country's top senior. "That is a very advanced skill."

Reach Matt Middleton at (706) 823-3425 or matt.middleton@augustachronicle.com.

PEACH JAM AT A GLANCE

At Riverview Park Activities Center, North Augusta


MONDAY: The four-day Nike AAU event reached its midpoint.


STAR OF THE DAY: Jared Sullinger was unstoppable down low, scoring 19 points and grabbing 17 rebounds in unbeaten All Ohio Red's 68-50 win over Playaz Club. Sullinger is an Ohio State recruit.


RESULT OF THE DAY: California Supreme remained unbeaten through its first three games with a 98-74 win over a good Team Texas Elite squad.


TODAY: Final session of pool play begins at 9 a.m.; four quarterfinal games begin at 6 p.m.


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