Barnes Nominates Self to Replace LeBron in Cleveland

CHAPEL HILL, N.C.–Shortly after LeBron James announced his decision to sign with the Miami Heat Thursday evening, residents of Cleveland, Ohio—a place fraught by every imaginable misfortune—began mandated preparations to burn their city to the ground and move to Florida like everyone else.

Stop, drop and roll, Cuyahoga County—you have a new savior to call your own.

In a unprecedented move, incoming University of North Carolina freshman basketball star Harrison Barnes declared himself available and eager to sign with the ailing Cavalier franchise.

“I invited you all to this press conference today, heretofore, to discuss, with your willingness, my immediate future plans,” Barnes said Friday morning.

“That is, I would like to be the next LeBron James, please and thank you.”

Holding forth in the nasal voice that has become his trademark, Barnes outlined his plans to solicit a hefty contract from distressed Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert, and told members of the press that he had already discussed his uniform number with incoming coach Byron Scott.

“After a few weeks of shooting hoops here in Chapel Hill, I just really think I’m ready for the next level,” he said. “The NBA just calls to me.”

Barnes’ mother Shirley flew in from the family home in Ames, Iowa to provide “some moral support” for her son in a transitional period.

“Harrison Bryce Jordan Barnes just has so much to give,” the proud mother said.

He started watching Nova at three years old, and he asked for the complete works of Bill Shakespeare for Christmas. Now how many young men do that?”

Mrs. Barnes added that Harrison had maintained a 6.0 grade point average at Ames High. A recorded greeting at the office of Barnes’ former high school revealed that it, too, is moving to Cleveland.

In an e-mail, Ames freshman Kayla Rasmussen declared, “We go where Prince Harry goes!”

Prince, indeed. Barnes has a chance to start at small forward from his first day in Cleveland, and should usurp several veterans still in search of the Rust Belt city’s elusive first NBA championship.

“Anthony Parker, Jamario Moon, they’re nice fellas,” Barnes gesticulated with a chuckle. “Didn’t Moon have like, six rebounds against the Raptors once last year? I look forward to teaching them all I’ve learned this summer here at UNC.”

When reminded that former Tar Heel stars Danny Green and Jawad Williams would likely be his teammates in Cleveland, Barnes momentarily fell silent.

“Oh, right! Danny really cut the rug at the Alumni Weekend Ball last year. I’m sure he’ll be the life of the party on the team bus.”

But Tar Heel country is unlikely to be partying after this jolt of news. Last season, the team salvaged a 5-11 conference record with a daring run to the NIT championship game, but fans were jumpy for Barnes to lead their team back to their rightful place—the Big Dance.

As such, early afternoon patrons of the popular Chapel Hill bar Players were predictably distraught.

“But, he promised!” said sophomore Leigh Anne Clayton, a lifelong UNC supporter from nearby Pittsboro. Turning around on her barstool, Clayton pointed out a tattoo near her waistline. “That’s H, for Harrison. And the heart and crown, ’cause he’s the king of my heart, you know?”

Regardless of the local mood, Barnes insists his weeks in Chapel Hill were highly educational. He cited a correspondence course at the Barack Obama Center for Elocutional Studies, whose office in the Dean E. Smith Center basement opened last fall.

“Listen: the hard-scrabble, Main Street folks in Cleveland deserve a second chance at victory,” Barnes said. “It’s not only what I believe, it’s what’s right.”

Shirley Barnes noted that Harrison’s early acceptance into the University’s prestigious Kenan-Flagler undergraduate business school still holds weight.

“With Harrison’s 13 A.P. [Advanced Placement] credits, he’d be only a few courses away from graduating if he ever wanted to come back and get his degree.”

It’s doubtful, however, that the hoops-rabid community would welcome him. John Swofford, commissioner of the Atlantic Coast Conference and a former UNC Morehead Scholar, issued a press release from his home in Greensboro Friday afternoon.

“In light of this recent news, the ACC will re-open the voting for conference Player of the Year,” the release read. “We will also withdraw our nomination of Mr. Barnes for the Barbara Walters Most Fascinating People of 2011.”

But Swofford was only the tip of the iceberg.

In his wood-paneled office, beleaguered Tar Heel coach Roy Williams was stunned by the announcement from his “thoroughbred.”

“It was just last weekend we were out shopping for suits,” an aghast Williams said, pausing to grab a Coke from his mini-fridge and fiddle with his cell phone.

“Do you know how to use these things?” Williams asked, tapping the phone’s screen. “I’ve been trying to Skype him all morning.”

Deviled Eggs: June 21st, 2010

Every Monday morning, Crazie Talk culls Duke basketball news, articles, and videos into a half dozen of the best “Deviled Eggs” on the interwebs.

Here are this week’s best.


Duke Commits and Targets Shine at USA U18 Trials

Incoming freshmen Kyrie Irving and Josh Hairston will be representing the United States at the 2010 FIBA Americas U18 Championship. Austin Rivers, Quincy Miller, and Amir Williams, all Duke targets in the Class of 2011, will be joining Irving and Hairston on the team.

Duke-UNC Pits Irving-Barnes

Oh, what could have been. Instead of playing on the same side of an absolutely loaded team, Kyrie and Harriet will be pitted against one another in college basketball’s fiercest rivalry. As if Duke-UNC needed any more intrigue.

Smith and Singler are Back for More

Interesting to hear that Nolan would have considered leaving had Kyle declared for the NBA. These guys are something special.

One on One with Elton Brand

Although his career path has not followed the trajectory of his former AAU teammates, Lamar Odom and Ron Artest (both of whom earned themselves NBA Championship rings earlier this week), Elton Brand has still been in the NBA for a decade. He came back to campus to coach at K Academy last week.

Mike G Doin’ Work

2011 commit Mike Gbinije did work this past weekend at the NBA Players Association Top 100 Camp. He averaged 14 points per contest after measuring at 6’7. He’s flying under the radar, but he looks to be quite the player by the time he arrives in Durham.

*   *   *

I know, I know, that’s only five…but this absolutely absurd Kyrie Irving mixtape should brighten up your Monday morning.

Oh, and if you can’t get enough of that, you can check out another here. This kid is going to be ridiculous next year.

The Kyrie Irving Effect

When Kyrie Irving committed to Duke this past week, the casual basketball fan may have asked, “What’s his game like? What can he do as a Blue Devil?”

In my opinion, the benefits that Kyrie brings to Durham are at least threefold: immediate talent, short-term and long-term recruiting.

Talent

Kyrie is a tremendous point guard. His high school coach, Kevin Boyle, said that Irving would be “as good as anybody who’s played in New Jersey.” That’s high praise in the context of Blue Devil history, considering the guards responsible for Duke’s three national titles, Bobby Hurley and Jason Williams, are both Jersey products.

Perhaps Boyle simply spoke too soon. Irving has gotten much, much better in the past year.

In August, Kyrie won MVP honors of the Nike Global Challenge by leading USA’s East squad to a comeback victory over a talented Canada squad. The event is arguably the most challenging prep showcase of the summer; not only are players representing themselves, but their country as well. Kyrie not only outplayed the competition, but he stood out on a team that also featured fellow 2010 top-10 recruits Josh Selby, Tobias Harris and Will Barton, cementing his status as an elite prospect.

Just days after his Duke announcement, Irving dominated the Eddie Griffin Challenge, an event that pits New Jersey and Pennsylvania high schoolers against each other. Again, Kyrie stole the show by taking over down the stretch and carried the New Jersey seniors over the Pennsylvania seniors. Kyrie dropped 12 assists to go along with 19 points, showing the Duke faithful what they have been missing since Chris Duhon – a true point guard.

Of course, Irving must improve some aspects of his game. To excel at Duke, he will have to improve defensively. Coach K demands a lot of his lead guards on defense (remember the way Ewing hounded Felton in the final seconds at Cameron in ’05?). In that same vein, Irving must hit the weight room if he wants to match up with bigger guards. If he can put on some weight and round out his game on the defensive side, he can become an All-ACC player.

On his Twitter, Kyrie loves to use the phrase “Hungry and Humble,” or H&H for short. This is the best attitude a Duke point guard can have. With the target on your back at all times, you must have the fire to win and the courage to keep getting better. With Kyrie’s natural talent and competitive drive, there is no limit for him at Duke and beyond.

Short-Term Recruiting

Kyrie’s commitment makes Duke’s 2010 class a solid three-man group thus far, as he joins Josh Hairston and Tyler Thornton in an already talented class.

But even the mild ACC fan has heard the name Harrison Barnes. After committing on Thursday, Kyrie told Highschoolhoop: “Harrison, he’s like a big brother to me and we talk all the time. He’s his own man and he’s gonna make his own decision. Whatever decision he makes, I’m gonna be happy for him.”

Despite Irving’s guarded attitude on Harrison’s recruitment, the possibility of having his “big brother” (and top high school player in the U.S.) at Duke with him must be exciting.

Barnes has been our number one target all along; Andre Dawkins pledged to get Barnes to Duke months before enrolling early. So could Kyrie’s commitment push Harrison over the edge? On paper, adding Barnes would make next year’s Blue Devils among the most talented teams in Duke history. The guard core is already staggering: Irving and Thornton will join Nolan, Andre, Seth and a potential national player of the year in Kyle Singler (we can dream).

Irving will be the primary ball handler as soon as he is ready. Harrison’s versatility would permit him to play anywhere from the 2-4 spots, the ideal “combo guard/forward” with which Duke teams have thrived in the past (read: Grant Hill and Shane Battier). The two would make for scintillating Chronicle headlines for  years to come.

During Kyrie’s visit to Duke, a sign hung over the archway on Towerview Drive that read, “NJ Guards Win Championships.” While Barnes watched Duke beat Pfeiffer on Saturday, students raised a banner reading, “The Tradition Continues,” with Harrison flanked by photos of national champions Hill and Battier. Could the potential point guard-wing forward duo of Irving and Barnes lead Duke to similar success?

Long-Term Recruiting

Duke’s recruiting misses of the past 5 years have been well-documented. As such, Kyrie’s commitment represented a overpowering sense of satisfaction for hardcore Blue Devils, myself included. I had to watch “Duke locks” like Kenny Boynton and Greg Monroe go elsewhere. That’s all water under the bridge now! Kyrie is a top-5 player in the class of 2010, and may end up as the nation’s best high school point guard by the time the all-star games roll around next spring.

What effect will Irving have on future recruiting? Quickly, let me say that that depends entirely on how he plays in college. If by some diluvian catastrophe Kyrie doesn’t perform well at Duke, it would reflect poorly in future recruiting. But let’s be honest, is that even possible? Recruiting guru Dave Telep recently told us via Twitter that Kyrie would be a “9+” out of 10 in college. The best validation of Kyrie’s potential to lead this team is Coach K’s decision to let him wear #1 at Duke, something that apparently has never happened in Coach’s tenure. If we don’t trust K’s judgment in handing Irving the reins, what are we (and the Olympic team) doing?

So barring freak accident or hurricane, Kyrie will be a star and leader at Duke. The championships Duke has the potential to win in Kyrie’s tenure will continue to rejuvenate its image for recruits.

Perhaps equally important: Kyrie’s “hungry and humble” attitude will also motivate high school athletes to avoid the sketchy route of other star players and focus on improving their game and preparing for college. Irving is reportedly a great student at St. Patrick’s, and the quality Duke education he will receive will only further his success in the NBA and beyond. He is an innovator, too, using Twitter and live UStream broadcasts to connect with the fans. Kyrie has expressed his interest in studying journalism in college, and I could see him becoming a great basketball analyst following his NBA career. The possibilities for a young man like Kyrie are endless.

Duke fans have established a schema of the players who are “Duke kids.” Kyrie is certainly one of those—his work ethic, intelligence, and responsiveness to the big stages of basketball fit perfectly in the our tradition of talented guards.

Hopefully, Irving’s choice to attend Duke will represent a paradigm shift in our recruiting. Hopefully, everyone will want to be a Duke kid.

Video: Kyrie’s MVP highlights from the Nike Global Challenge.

Crazie-Talk is active in covering this exciting time in Duke Basketball: a new season, recruiting success, and more. Check back here and on our Twitter for frequent updates.

Take the "H" Train: Barnes Attends Practice in Cameron


Coach K discusses a drill with Harrison Barnes on the sidelines of Friday's open practice. (Property of Crazie-Talk)

Coach K discusses a drill with Harrison Barnes on the sidelines of Friday's open practice. (Property of Crazie-Talk)

A Visitor From Ames

This morning, the “H” train arrived at Duke University.

Only a day after top guard prospect Kyrie Irving committed to Duke, Harrison Barnes, the number 1 high school player in the nation, is on campus for his official visit. Having taken trips to a trio of top schools (Oklahoma, UNC, Kansas), Barnes will be shown the inner workings of Cameron Indoor, the Krzyzewski Center, campus life, academics, and all the multifarious details that make Duke Basketball one of the top programs in the country.

As expected, the Cameron Crazies are well aware of Harrison’s presence on campus and the impact he would have as a member of the 2010 recruiting class. Students posted flyers with “That’s H” all over West Campus (mirroring the “That’s G” Gatorade ad campaign). Also, a group of students painted the Kilgo quad bench with a message to Harrison Barnes: “1 OF MANY BENCHES WE’LL BURN. H 40.”

Open Practice, 1:50 p.m.

On Friday afternoon, Cameron was opened up to Duke fans and students for a full practice. A similar event occurred the day after Countdown to Craziness, Duke’s inaugural “Midnight Madness” event on October 16th. Harrison looked on from the bench: first sitting with his mother and sister before moving to the bench to watch and discuss with Coach K.

Like Harrison, many students brought their folks along as this weekend is also Parent’s Weekend at Duke. The team ran through a variety of drills: full court press breaking, controlled scrimmages, and conditioning.

Barnes can multitask: watch a top team and dribble between his legs. Those 9 A.P. classes are paying off. (Propery of Crazie-Talk)

Barnes can multitask: watch a top team and dribble between his legs. Those 9 A.P. classes are paying off. (Property of Crazie-Talk)

Just like the last open practice, Jon, Nolan and Kyle looked the freshest and most confident on the court. Jon is the clear leader of this team—directing traffic on the court and guiding the younger players in difficult drills. Nolan’s shot is much more fluid than in his first two seasons; I expect him to become a 3-point threat on every possession, especially if he starts at shooting guard with Jon at the point. Kyle was silky smooth as always. On one broken play, he scrambled for a loose ball, filled the space between himself and the defending big man, avoided contact, and finished with a pretty one handed floater. You just can’t teach that.

The Plumlees are looking more capable of performing well among the trees of the ACC. Miles’ added strength will allow him to use his considerable ballhandling skills, while Mason’s athleticism and overall talent will terrorize opponent’s lumbering bigs.

Andre’s touch is absolutely fantastic for an 18 year old. Many times in the scrimmages he found himself in the 10-15 ft. range and could knock down off-balanced jumpers in traffic. If he can bring it like this in competition, well, maybe we can lament Elliot’s departure a little bit less (maybe). As for Curry: after a year of lifting weights and learning the offense, watch out.

Practice Highlights

Lance Thomas is not in attendance . . . Curry and Dre hit back to back threes in a full court press drill . . .Nolan hooks up with Mason for an alley-oop in the full-court drill, crowd goes wild . . . Olek needs to stop taking 3s . . . Nolan with a 3 in the halfcourt drill, Singler hits one from the corner next possession . . . Ryan misses a corner jumper, Miles tip dunks the miss with one hand . . . Zoubek fights for a board and puts it back in . . .Harrison has very long arms, extend several chairs across when he leans back . . . Assistant Coach Chris Spatola is sitting with Shirley Barnes and Harrison’s sister . . How about calling Zoubek “Treebeard”? He looks like a Tolkien character with that fuzz on his face and his 7’1” frame…Can you imagine a guard core of Kyrie, Seth, Andre, Harrison, Nolan, and Thornton? Think about it.

EDIT: Lance Thomas missed the practice and the Pfeiffer game due to illness. He should be back in practice this week.

The highlight of the night? Andre alleys, Miles oops.


Crazie-Talk will be covering the Harrison Barnes visit all weekend. We agree with the Duke nation: along with Irving, Hairston, and Thornton, Harrison would complete Duke’s best recruiting class in the past 10 years.

Everyone be sure to attend the Duke-Maryland football game in Wallace Wade at 1:30 tomorrow, with the Pfeiffer exhibition game to follow. Barnes will be at both games—if you see him, show him some Duke love!

Deviled Eggs 10/19/09

Every Monday morning, Crazie Talk culls Duke basketball news, articles, and videos into a half dozen of the best “Deviled Eggs” on the interwebs.

Here are this week’s best:

dredunk

Hopefully, we'll be seeing a lot more of this. (Photo courtesy of DukeBluePlanet.com)

1. “H” has a few things he wants to clear up.

A press release written by Harrison Barnes himself in response to speculation about his in-home visits. We’re hitting the home stretch, Crazies. Barnes, who likes to be called “H”, will be in Gothic Wonderland for his official visit this Friday! To any students who read this: ditch your parents and come to this game!

2. Ahead of the Curve

Andre Dawkins is Duke’s heralded freshman shooting guard who chose to enroll early, providing a much needed spark after the departures of Gerald Henderson to the NBA and Elliot Williams to stay close to an ailing parent.  Dawkins, armed with a sweet stroke and G-like leaping ability, is a much needed addition to Duke’s roster.

3. Open Letter To Duke

Duke athletics isn’t all about basketball, as Heather Dinich argues in this open letter to all Cameron Crazies.  Our football team has taken some major strides this season, with Thad Lewis doing his best imitation of Tom Brady. We play Maryland at home this Saturday, with the chance to go to 2-1 in ACC play in Coach Cutcliffe’s second year.

4. J.J Redick: A Class Act

J.J fulfills a dream of one of his biggest young fans, 16 year-old Max Runyon. Stories like this just never get old.

5. Coach K reveals starting five

…and we’re going to be HUGE, with the average starting height at 6’7. Now if we could just conjure a few more (eligible) guards.

6. SI’s Preseason Power Rankings

Duke sits at 12, perhaps a tad low but nothing too out of the ordinary. My problem is with UConn at 3, who we potentially matchup against in the preseason NIT at Madison Square Garden. Does part of Jim Calhoun’s salary go to Luke Winn?

BONUS:

Countdown to Craziness – In Living Color.

Crazie Talk photographer Christine’s photos from Friday night’s inaugural basketball extravaganza. It’s about time we did this at Duke.

Click to see more of the incredible night that was Countdown to Craziness. (All photos copyright Crazie Talk, 2009)

Deviled Eggs 10/12/09

Every Monday morning, Crazie Talk culls Duke basketball news, articles, and videos into a half dozen of the best “Deviled Eggs” on the interwebs.

Here are this week’s best:

freshmen

Let's get this party started. Photo courtesy of DukeBluePlanet.com

1. Freshman Adjustment

Ryan, Mason, and Andre are anxious to get things started. So are we. Four days!

2. Harrison Barnes Talks OU

Fresh off of a visit to Norman last weekend, Harrison dishes about Oklahoma and his relationship with former Duke guard and Oklahoma coach Jeff Capel.

3. Zags on Kyrie Irving

Irving was at Texas A&M this weekend for an official visit – his first since he visited campus a few weeks ago. This weekend also looks to be a busy one for the #2 point guard prospect in the nation.

4. The Dagger: Duke, UNC battle comically over Harrison Barnes

A decent rundown of the drama that ensued between Roy, K, and Barnes last Monday – the final day of the in-home contact period. My favorite part of this little piece:

“The last time we saw him, he was being wined and dined at the UNC Alumni Game…”

The ‘wine and cheesers’ certainly know how to ‘wine and dine’. But are they deserving of the plethora of talent that is Harrison Barnes? We think not.

5. Senior QB Thaddeus Lewis Honored By Walter Camp Foundation.

…as National Offensive Player of the Week for his incredible performance against State on Saturday. Congrats, Thad!

6. From Obama, With Love

President Barack Obama is a well-decorated man. He holds the most powerful office in the world, a law degree from Harvard, and was the winner of the 2009 Nobel Peace Prize. He also had one heck of a block on his personal aide – former Duke forward Reggie Love – that was met with as much fanfare as his aforementioned accomplishments. A photo was taken, framed, and even presented during a White House press briefing.

Can the season start already?

Deviled Eggs 9/21/09

Every Monday morning, Crazie Talk culls Duke basketball news, articles, and videos into a half dozen of the best “Deviled Eggs” on the interwebs.

Here are this week’s best:

kylejon

A tremendous tandem. Photo courtesy of DukeBluePlanet.com


1. Captain Jon Scheyer breaks down 2009-2010

Jon is unbelievably valuable to this team. He’s calm, collected, and really understands the game and his role in the system. Let’s hope its a season to remember for him and fellow senior Captain Lance Thomas.

2. Mason Plumlee is a BEAST.

If Mason can play like this in the ACC, things are looking really, really good down low for Duke this year and beyond.

3.Recruiting Update: Kyrie, Harrison, and Austin Rivers

These next few weeks could be incredibly exciting for Duke basketball. On Friday, Kyrie eliminated Indiana from his list – a school previously thought to be in contention. With his official visit coming up this weekend, Duke is sitting pretty with a player who may be “the next Jason Williams“.

4. Harrison Barnes…what more is there to say?

Yeah, Harrison’s pretty good at basketball.

5. Duke students don’t know how good they have it…

A surprisingly positive take from The Dagger on Duke’s decision to allow graduate students to sit behind both baskets in Cameron this season.

6. Cameron Indoor Gets a Facelift

Check out our Photos page to see what the hallowed arena will look like this year!

BONUS:

Countdown to Craziness: Be There.

Lo and behold, college basketball season is almost upon us. On October 16, Coach K and the team will open the season with “Countdown to Craziness” in Cameron. Follow the jump for everything you need to know about what looks to be a hell of a weekend. Thanks to DBP once again for the link.