Among those who think the Warriors got a steal in Harrison Barnes with the No. 7 pick is the coach for whom Barnes was a perceived disappointment.
Roy Williams, the coach at North Carolina, said the Warriors were "one of the two or three best fits out there" for the smooth 6-foot-8, 228-pound small forward. He said Barnes' all-around game, including the ability to hit shots at crunchtime, will make him a fan favorite.
"He's a great addition," Williams said by phone Friday. "He's what the Warriors needed."
Barnes, viewed as a potential top-five pick, slipped just far enough Thursday for general manager Bob Myers to declare a draft-night coup.
Barnes is something of a buy-low stock, having gone from the top high school recruit in the nation to a player who was solid but rarely spectacular for the Tar Heels.
Williams said Barnes' numbers paled only because the expectations were over the moon, noting that the small forward was the first freshman to be selected to The Associated Press preseason All-America team.
"This guy was an All-American before he'd even played a game," Williams said. "People like to pick on a guy when there are expectations like that, just looking for ways to (criticize his game). But look at his numbers."
Here, Williams paused to rattle off a long list of accomplishments, including a 16.4 points-per-game career scoring average. Barnes reached double-digit scoring in 64 of 75 games and was a first-team All-ACC selection for a national powerhouse program.
"If it was anybody else," Williams said, "you'd say it was pretty doggone good."
Still, as the most ballyhooed high school player in the country, Barnes was expected to dominate more, to be drafted higher. He arrives in the NBA projected as a solid starter, maybe, but not as the future superstar he looked destined to become.
Barnes was once such a sensation at Ames High that school officials had to arrange postgame autograph sessions, complete with security guards on hand to keep the lines from getting too unruly.
"Harrison was like a rock star on the road in the state of Iowa," said Judge Johnston, his athletic director at Ames High.
"It was somewhat like the circus coming to town," Ames High coach Vance Downs said.
Such a life prepared Barnes for the spotlight that now follows him to the NBA, where the lofty expectations will be the least of his concerns.
"It's helped me a great deal in terms of being in the spotlight and knowing how to act accordingly," Barnes said less than an hour after the Warriors called his name. "I was almost kind of groomed, in a way. I grew up in the media."
Barnes has had a lot to live up to even before he was born. His mom used to videotape all of Michael Jordan's games in case she one day had a son. The VCR was rolling May 29, 1992, the night Jordan scored 29 points to help the Chicago Bulls beat the Cleveland Cavaliers in the decisive Game 6 of the Eastern Conference finals.
That's also the night Shirley went into labor. She named her son Harrison Bryce Jordan Barnes.
"I wanted my son's name to sound royal," Shirley told the Charlotte News and Observer earlier this year. "Most people don't have four names, but I just knew my guy would be special."
The "Jordan" in his middle name means what you think it does. And the kid embraced the challenge, watching those Bulls tapes his mom had collected and studying the moves he would later unleash in his driveway.
If nothing else, Barnes adopted a Jordan-esque work ethic.
"You can't just give a kid the key to the gym anymore, not even in Iowa, so I would meet him at 6 a.m. to unlock the door and let him in," said Downs, his high school coach, who called Friday from New York after attending draft night at Barnes' invitation.
"It wasn't just to come in and shoot baskets. He would lift weights. He would work on his skills. There were times when he came in and did track workouts."
Barnes led Ames High to back-to-back 4A titles and set school records. He finished his high school career with 53 consecutive victories.
Along the way, fans clamored just for a glimpse of him.
"Everywhere we went, it was a packed house," Johnston said. "I used to joke with the other athletic directors. I'd say, 'You owe me a bonus check for selling out your gym.' I called it the Harrison Barnes appearance fee."
For all the attention, Barnes kept a level head and remained a diligent student, with a 3.4 GPA. He visited colleges with his academic questions written out in a notebook. His recruiting trips included a stop at Stanford, where he chatted with Condoleezza Rice.
Predictably, Barnes chose North Carolina, Jordan's alma mater. Meeting Jordan on his recruiting trip cinched the deal.
But the big fish sometimes swam upstream with the Tar Heels. For the first time in his life, the rock star had critics. During one rough stretch early in his freshman season, he scored just six points in a loss to Minnesota, eight in a defeat at Illinois and 11 when the Tar Heels were blown out by Georgia Tech.
Things perked up last season when, as a sophomore, he led North Carolina and was third in the ACC in scoring (17.1). Barnes also averaged 5.2 rebounds and 1.1 steals and shot 35.8 percent from 3-point range.
Williams said he will remember him for delivering at big moments. "We needed him to score and he was able to do that. There were times when we called on him to make big shots, and he did it almost every dadgum time."
The Warriors venture that there are more big shots ahead. And if Harrison Bryce Jordan Barnes needs an example of a player who took his game to new heights after playing at North Carolina, he can just look to his namesake.
"We think he'll operate better in space," Myers said. "In the college game, sometimes, when you're playing on a team like North Carolina with so many good players, you don't get as much opportunity."
Coach Mark Jackson said: "I'm not going to sit here and talk about the Carolina system. What I will tell you is that the NBA game suits him better. We have guys who are going to make him better on the floor. He's going to have more room because of the talent we have."
Contact Daniel Brown at firstname.lastname@example.org.