Barnes teaches Ames youth at basketball camp


Photo: Bertha Bush/Iowa State Daily

Harrison Barnes, a freshman at University of North Carolina, is a 2010 Ames High School graduate. Barnes plays small forward for the Tar Heels. Barnes was a guest coach at the Harrison Barnes basketball camp at Ames City Hall, where he worked with kids in grades 3 through 10 on July 30. 

Zach Gourley

At the City of Ames’ Parks and Recreation youth basketball camp, counselors stressed the importance of the fundamentals of the game.

While a group of third and fourth graders were at the dribbling station, one particular camper was having a hard time remembering to keep his head up while dribbling the ball.

A camp counselor pulled out his wallet, walked over to the child and proceeded to extend the wallet to the camper, holding it at eye level.

After waiting several moments and seeing the camper continue to stare straight down at the basketball, the counselor got the child’s attention and said with a smile, “You could have had my wallet if you had been looking up.”

The counselor was North Carolina forward Harrison Barnes.

Barnes, along with Ames High basketball coach Vance Downs and other Ames High varsity basketball players, put on the camp last weekend at the Community Center Gym.

Barnes said that the camp was not only about basketball, but also about promoting character qualities that are important for young people.

“Basketball is a great game, and these kids enjoy playing it, but everyone is blessed with different amounts of time to play it,” Barnes said. “Not everyone can be Michael Jordan or Kobe Bryant. As long as we’re trying to teach these kids to be high-character people, that’s all I ask.”

Downs said that he was contacted by Nancy Carroll, the parks and recreation director in Ames, as well as Harrison Barnes’ mother, Shirley Barnes, about helping out at the camp.

“It’s just a great situation, and we’re really thankful for all the counselors for coming out and spending their time with the kids of Ames,” Downs said. “They just want to have a basketball experience with Harrison. And thank goodness he’s willing to make time for the kids and make that happen.”

Barnes averaged 15.7 points and 5.8 rebounds per game last season for the Tar Heels and recovered from a slow start by turning up production down the stretch. One highlight of his freshman season was a 40-point outburst against Clemson in the ACC tournament.

With North Carolina being the favorite to start the 2011-2012 season ranked No. 1 in country, Barnes said that the team must remain focused throughout the season to have a shot at a national title.

“There’s going to be a lot of eyes on us and a lot of expectation, but we just have to play consistent,” Barnes said. “I feel like we did that down the stretch last season, and I think that’s what allowed us to get to where we did.”