Those who follow college basketball closely -- in other words, those paid to write about college hoops during the summer down months, when the rest of you are sunning yourself at Cubs games, jerks -- probably remember the visit Harrison Barnes took to North Carolina's alumni game in October of 2009. Before the game, Duke was still pursuing Barnes heavily, and Iowa State -- Barnes' hometown school and one with close ties to his family -- was still holding out hope that he'd choose to help resurrect a dormant Cyclones program.
Then Barnes visited Chapel Hill. He found himself surrounded by the UNC "family," in which All-Americans and NBA stars are a dime a dozen. After hearing about this visit, you almost had to feel bad for Iowa State: How were the Cyclones going to compete with that?
They couldn't. Nor, apparently, could Duke. Now that Barnes is nearly finished with his first (and perhaps only) season in college hoops, the Internet brings the perfect clip to demonstrate why.
When you go to North Carolina, you get to talk footwear with Michael Jordan. To wit:
Yes, that's the greatest basketball player of all-time hassling Barnes about wearing Kobe Bryant's signature shoe over his. He also makes the Tar Heels a unique promise: If UNC gets to the Final Four, Jordan will arrange to get them any type of sneakers they want. (And no, this is not an NCAA violation; Jordan Brand is the official supplier of the UNC men's basketball team, and arranging for players' gear while in school isn't an illegal benefit.) Look out, Marquette.
My choice would be the shoe Jordan specifically references: The Jordan 11 "Cool Grays," which were re-released to insane lines and huge secondary market prices this year. My roommate wears a pair to play every Tuesday night, and I am always immediately overcome with envy. I guess my only options are to a) spend $300 on a pair on eBay or b) become a basketball player at North Carolina. No sweat, right?
Anyway, in case you wondered why North Carolina recruits so well, it's not just the unique basketball history, up-tempo style, awesome uniforms, or beautiful campus. It's also getting that special "there's Michael Jordan!" sensation more frequently than any other team in college basketball. How are you supposed to recruit against that?