The 2010 Jordan Brand Classic -- an annual All-Star game for some of the top high school basketball players in the world -- was held last week in New York City, and when the players arrived in the Big Apple, SIKIDS.com was there to chronicle what happened!
Keep reading for a Q&A I conducted with Harrison Barnes*, the No. 1 high school player in the country (according to ESPNU). We discuss his basketball future (Barnes will be attending the University of North Carolina this fall), his hobbies, and a whole lot more! Also, be sure to check back later in the week for more pics and videos from the 2010 JBC, as well as my performance grades for all the players in the East vs. West game...
SIKIDS.com: What made you select North Carolina as they school you’d play ball at next year?
Harrison Barnes: It was the best school for me, in terms of both the school’s academics and the school’s basketball program.
SIK: UNC had a rough season last year (losing to Dayton in the NIT Championship game after failing to make the NCAA Tournament). Were you worried about their struggles on the court when making your decision?
HB: Not at all. I always knew UNC was the place for me. If I was going to North Carolina solely for basketball, then maybe I would’ve been more concerned. But it’s not just hoops for me. It’s academics. It’s the campus lifestyle. It’s the people on the campus, and the connections they have with one another. I’m excited about all those things.
SIK: How important were academics to you, in comparison to basketball, when you were trying to decide where to go? Sometimes, school can take a backseat for someone with your talent level…
HB: Academics are very important for me. I was looking at Columbia University and Stanford University, in addition to UNC, at one point. Their basketball programs weren’t quite up to UNC’s standards…
SIK: Not quite.
HB: [Laughs] So that took them out of the competition. When I checked out UNC though, I realized their academics were nearly as good as their basketball program. They have one of the Top 5 business schools in the country. And for me, getting a degree is much more important than where I might end up in the NBA.
SIK: So it’s safe to say that if basketball doesn't work out, or even if it does, when you’re done with the game, there’s a future in business for you?
HB: I’ll pursue business. Definitely.
SIK: If you could apply a business model to the North Carolina hoops team next year, what would be the keys to a profitable season?
HB: Hmm… we definitely need more production [laughs]. Our company was not producing last year! That starts with bringing in new employees, aka this year’s recruiting class. Not sure what would relate to a good budget… our budget would just be winning games! We need to stick to a steady diet of winning games.
SIK: Another portion of the budget could be devoted to managing minutes on the floor to get maximum results?
HB: Definitely. And I think that starts in the preseason, doing what we need to do to come together and develop good chemistry. And when the season starts, just playing our game.
SIK: Business model aside, how do you think the team will fare next season?
HB: I think we’ll be very-much improved. First, we’ll have the experience that the returning players picked up last year. They’ll be one year better. And even though we’ll lose a lot of experienced seniors, there’s a lot of talent coming in as well.
SIK: What do you do to fill the time when you’re not on the court or in the classroom?
HB: Reading. I have a steady reading diet that I like to keep to.
SIK: What’s your favorite book?
HB: Driven From Within, by Michael Jordan.
SIK: What makes that your favorite book?
HB: It highlights his whole career, where he started from, and highlights his entire career, all the way to the NBA. Reading it… his characters and his values never changed along the way. It’s all about earning everything you get, and remaining authentic.
SIK: Are those lessons you’ve tried to follow as you’re walking your own path?
HB: Those are definitely the values I want to have.
*In case you're not familiar with Mr. Harrison Barnes... he's the goods. 6'8", 210 lbs., can play in the paint or from behind the three-point line... the goods.