Athlete Spotlight: Harrison Barnes
Since being drafted by the Golden State Warriors in the 2012 draft, Harrison Barnes has solidified his status as one of the brightest young stars in today’s game. The Warriors were picking at #7 and decided to go with the 6’8” sophomore forward out of the University of North Carolina. A year later, he was chosen as a member of the All-Rookie First Team. Two years after that he was helping the Dubs hoist up their first championship trophy since 1975.
Harrison is now a key member of Mark Cuban’s Dallas Mavericks. While he was always a contributor to the juggernaut that is the Warriors, he was never the centerpiece of that team. Today though, he is an up-and-coming player that Dallas is trying to build around to consistently compete in the tough Western Conference.
Barnes’s status in professional basketball is solidified and ever-improving. However, he has established himself as much more than simply a star athlete. The star Mavericks forward is a contributor off the court as well, becoming one of the most philanthropic players in the entire league. Here are some of the many ways Harrison Barnes has shined on the court and in the community.
ON THE COURT
Harrison Barnes has been a starter at the professional level from year one. After an illustrious collegiate career, in which he was a two-time All-Conference member and 2012 All-American, Barnes has not skipped a beat in the pros. He averaged a respectable 9.2 points per game as a rookie, but his average has gone up every year he has been in the league. Last season, he took full advantage of a greater workload, setting a new career high in PPG, with 19.2. He was far from a high-volume scorer, shooting a solid 46.8 percent from the field, and making 86.1 percent of his free throws.
Barnes has also proven his mettle on the defensive side of the floor. His versatility in terms of matchups and his ability to defend against various types of offensive plays has been in the upper echelon of professional basketball. Last season against the pick and roll, he ranked in the 93rd percentile when guarding the player with the ball, and in the 74th percentile when he went up against the one rolling to the basket. In one-on-one situations, he placed in the 90th percentile, at just .64 points per possession. Lastly, he was even better when covering hand-offs, ranking as the best in the entire league. Opponents shot just 9.5 percent from the field against him when they ran this play.
Harrison’s basketball IQ and wide range of skills on the offensive and defensive ends of the court make him a force to be reckoned with. At the age of 25, he has set himself up to become one of the premier two-way players in the league if he continues to blossom. Barnes is much more than a budding young talent, though, as his philanthropy has made him a star in the community as well.
Since the kid from Ames, Iowa was drafted out of North Carolina, he has been giving back to the community in some way. In 2014, the Warriors created the Alvin Attles Community Impact Award. This honor is given to the player on the team who most impacted his community throughout the course of the season and offseason. Barnes was awarded for his philanthropic work by receiving the inaugural award. Upon accepted the honor, Harrison said, “Throughout the season I’ve tried to connect with our great fans and give back to the community. Giving back to the community is something I’ve always believed in, so to receive this accolade in the name of a Warriors legend means a lot to me, and I’m glad I am able to help out the Bay Area.”
Barnes was very active in the Boys & Girls Club of America and with the Make-A-Wish Foundation. The season he won this award, he alone was behind the donation of almost 700 tickets to Golden State games. These seats went to underprivileged children and families in the Bay area, allowing them to come watch their favorite team play. He also was behind a shopping extravaganza for twenty children affiliated with the Boys & Girls Club of Oakland, treating them to anything they wanted at a local Adidas store.
Additionally, he made a youngster’s wish come true by spending time and developing a friendship with a boy named Cole. The young man has been battling bone cancer and made it his wish to meet his favorite Golden State star. After inviting him and his family to come watch him play, Barnes took it a step further by treating them to dinner. He even made some time in the day to play NBA2K with Cole, who will undoubtedly remember this experience for the rest of his life.
Grand, planned events like the ones orchestrated by the Make-A-Wish Foundation are obviously excellent. But there is something special about a completely random act of kindness that often leaves an indelible mark on those involved. Barnes was behind a moment like this in 2015, when he treated a young girls’ basketball team he came across to a little shopping spree. He bought each player a $150 gift card to Dick’s Sporting Goods, allowing them to splurge on some stylish new gear for their season. What was even more impressive was the personal issues Barnes was going through at that moment: nursing a sprained ankle that was keeping him sidelined. It seems that, regardless of what he is dealing with, there is never an excuse for Harrison Barnes to not do a good deed.
AN ALL-AROUND PERSON
Harrison Barnes’s skills on the court will continue to drive his basketball career. But outside the arena, he has a chance to make a truly lasting mark on the people who support him and cheer for him. The Iowa man’s philanthropy makes him a true role model to all young fans and players, and we hope he enjoys a long and illustrious career.