Barnes keeps it casual for Wizards workout

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Sports,Pick and Roll,Craig Stouffer

Forward's athleticism on display for Wizards

It's far easier to be "Harrison Barnes: NBA Draft lottery prospect," than it was to be "Harrison Barnes: Key to North Carolina's NCAA championship aspirations." Apparently, though, some NBA teams aren't quite convinced he's the same guy.

After the Ames, Iowa, native was the country's most sought after high school player -- burdened with an All-American nod before he played a minute for the Tar Heels -- Barnes has been at ease putting his game on display for the NBA teams that are jockeying for a chance to put him on their roster on June 28.

"It's pretty casual for me," Barnes said after a 90-minute workout for the Wizards on Tuesday alongside Syracuse's Kris Joseph and Northwestern's John Shurna. "I don't have any control over it, so I just try to do the best I can."

Barnes was untroubled enough the day before his Verizon Center showing to take in sights around Washington, including the National Portrait Gallery, National Gallery of Art, Lincoln Memorial and Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial.

Then it was back to proving that his eye-popping vertical jump (38 inches) and three-quarter court sprint (3.16 seconds) at the NBA Draft combine weren't a fluke.

"A lot of teams didn't believe that," Barnes said. "So I had to keep doing them every place I've been so far. That's been fun to try to validate those numbers. I just try to go out and compete, regardless of if the numbers are favorable or unfavorable to you."

Barnes said he's heard his name connected with being selected anywhere from No. 2 to No. 14 in next week's draft due to a number of teams considering trading up. At 20 years old, with two years of college under his belt, he has notably more experience than fellow potential picks for the Wizards at No. 3, Bradley Beal and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, who are both still 18.

Barnes' 17.1 points per game came at a 44 percent clip last year, complemented by 5.2 rebounds per game. If somehow that's a disappointment -- North Carolina did get bounced in the Elite Eight in both of his two seasons -- Barnes looks ahead to the more isolation-focused style in the NBA. He knows there would be plenty of shots for the perimeter scoring-starved Wizards.

"I feel like it'd be a good running mate," Barnes said of John Wall. "Obviously, John is very quick, very explosive. He can get to the rim, so I feel like he can definitely draw people in, and I can be the outside threat to keep people honest."

To hear Barnes' description, it's as factual as the athleticism that he's still got to defend. He's got no problem with doing either and even less concern with how it might affect his draft stock.

"I'm a straight shooter. I don't really sugarcoat things. I just let people know how I feel about everything, so hopefully they appreciate that. If not," Barnes said, pausing to take a deep breath for effect, "I'll have to drop."

cstouffer@washingtonexaminer.com

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Craig Stouffer

Staff writer - sports
The Washington Examiner