Harrison Barnes: New Tyler Hansbrough?

July, 29, 2010
7/29/10
11:37
AM ET
Us college folk are still getting to know Mr. Harrison Barnes. We know he's talented. We know he approaches basketball with the mindset of a CEO in training. We know he used Skype to announce his collegiate decision, a method that was both original and, after learning of Barnes' all-business attitude, entirely fitting. How many 18-year-old prep stars prefer to handle their business via videoconference?

But how good will he be? OK, well, duh. He'll be good. But good enough to make the Tar Heels completely forget their ugly 2009-10? Good enough to get UNC back to the elite? Good enough to compete for a title?

That we don't know. According to Barnes' new coach, though, it won't be for a lack of effort. Via Fox's Jeff Goodman, get ready for some high praise:
"It’s unfair that people are talking about him as a savior,” Williams said. "But he has come right in and already earned the respect of the veterans with his work ethic and focus.”

"Tyler is the most driven player I’ve ever coached,” Williams said. "I think Harrison will be number two. He has tremendous focus, self-discipline and is so driven.”

That's a little scary, when you think about it. After all, Tyler Hansbrough was talented, but as an incoming freshman he wasn't in the same stratosphere, athletically or otherwise, as Barnes. Hansbrough built his career on sheer determination, on a borderline psychopathic dedication to competition. There was a reason they called him Psycho T. And for all the backlash Hansbrough received from fans during his time at UNC -- he did have his irksome tendencies, after all -- by the end of his career it was impossible to deny just how good that career really was.

Imagine if Barnes experienced the same arc. It's unlikely Williams will be able to keep Barnes on campus for longer than a year or two. The NBA is already calling, and he won't have Hansbrough's four-year college career, that's for sure. But a player as talented as Barnes with Hansbrough's work ethic baked in? That's just, well, terrifying. And also awesome.

Try as he might, Williams isn't lowering the expectations for his incoming star one bit. In fact, he's raising them.

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