Last week, the college hoops blog world was semi-abuzz with the news that North Carolina sophomore Harrison Barnes -- the much-hyped forward who slowly but surely lived up to billing as a freshman last season -- would receive a tidy little exemption from Nike that would allow him to participate in Chris Paul's CP3 Nike Elite point guard skills camp in Winston-Salem, N.C. this weekend.
It would be Barnes's third-straight appearance at the guard camp; he also attended last summer. But this year felt a little different, if only because we now know much, much more about what Barnes' game was like, his strongest and weakest areas and the parts of his game he needs to build out to continue to improve in the foreseeable future.
One of those areas -- perhaps the biggest area -- is ballhandling. Particularly, Barnes has to get better at beating defenders off the dribble. When he does, his already reliable jump shot will only be more deadly, and the athleticism that makes him so versatile at 6-foot-8 will be frightening to behold.
It's encouraging news, then, to hear that Barnes agrees. From CBS's Jeff Goodman:
One of the areas in which Barnes struggled was putting it on the floor and beating defenders off the dribble. "I want to work on my ballhandling and what better way than to work with one of the best point guards in the world,” Barnes said from the CP3 Camp. "Ballhandling a big emphasis for me this offseason."
This has always been one of the most impressive things about Barnes. For all the hype accorded his arrival in Chapel Hill, Barnes has remained focused on improvement. He approaches his game like a technician. He spots weaknesses, attacks them with gusto and seeks to improve accordingly. It's the sort of thing you expect from an NBA veteran, or a driven up-and-coming star like Kevin Durant. It's not as typical of highly touted college sophomores. But it is an entirely promising proposition, both for UNC fans and for Barnes's future professional career.
We forget: At this point, dude's just getting started.