Barnes watches as Duke thumps Pfeifer

Staff writerOctober 24, 2009 

DUKEPFEBB3.SP.102409.CEL

A life sized photo of sought after high school recruit Harrison Barnes is held up in the stands before the Pfeiffer exhibition game at Cameron Indoor Stadium on Saturday, Oct. 24, 2009. Harrison was sitting behind the Duke bench during the game during a weekend visit. The sign was removed moments later by stadium officials.

CHUCK LIDDY — Staff photo by Chuck Liddy

DURHAM – Before Duke’s exhibition opener even started, a security guard ordered students to hand down the signs they’d brought to Cameron Indoor Stadium.

Harrison Barnes, a 6-foot-6 forward from Ames, Iowa, who’s rated the top high school senior in the nation, was about to enter the arena to watch Duke’s 128-70 pasting Pfeiffer in its exhibition opener Saturday.

The signs were photocopies with Barnes’ head superimposed on the body of a Duke player in uniform. NCAA rules prohibit students from participating in organized wooing of prospects on their campus visits, so the signs were collected and taken away.

"If you’ve got one of these, I’ve got to have it,” the security man said. “I’ve got to have all of them.”

Barnes walked into the arena along with Duke’s players, taking a seat behind the bench with his sister and mother on his right. Junior forward Kyle Singler made two 3-pointers in the first two minutes on a 21-point evening as senior Lance Thomas missed the game while recovering from an illness.

But Barnes’ mere presence was bigger news than a game against an NCAA Division II opponent that didn’t count toward Duke’s record.

Duke freshman forward Ryan Kelly, meanwhile, was on the periphery of some different news at week’s end. Kelly, who’s from Raleigh, formerly played on the D-One club team that made headlines last week.

SEC commissioner Mike Slive told ESPN.com on Thursday that the NCAA is looking into the eligibility of Kentucky freshman guard John Wall of Raleigh.

Wall was a teammate of Kelly’s on D-One. The club’s founder and CEO, Brian Clifton, was a certified agent from 2007-08 according to ESPN.com, and NCAA eligibility rules prevent players from receiving transportation or other benefits from agents.

But Kelly’s mother, Doreen, and Duke have said the NCAA has approved Kelly’s eligibility. He provided a spark for the Blue Devils off the bench Saturday with 18 points.

Afterward, Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski said “there’s nothing there” in terms of an eligibility issue with Kelly and Clifton.

"They’re looking at an association between a coach and a player, not a coach and a team,” Krzyzewski said. “At least, that’s my indicator on it.”

Barnes, meanwhile, is heading back to Iowa with plans to visit UCLA and Iowa State before announcing his school choice by the time practice starts in mid-November. He’s also considering North Carolina, Kansas and Oklahoma.

For the most part, Barnes sat poker faced as security officers tried to keep the Duke students’ enthusiasm in check. But Barnes cracked a smile before guards removed a giant cardboard cutout of his head on top of the body of a Duke player in uniform.

You can read something into that if you like. But with the disciplined, guarded way Barnes is handling his recruiting, it would seem foolish to view a simple grin as confirmation of anything.

News & Observer is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere in the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

Commenting FAQs | Terms of Service