UNC Basketball: Harrison Barnes' NBA Draft Decision Is Lurking

Gary SuggContributor IIMarch 23, 2011

CHARLOTTE, NC - MARCH 20:  Harrison Barnes #40 of the North Carolina Tar Heels reacts in the second half while taking on the Washington Huskies during the third round of the 2011 NCAA men's basketball tournament at Time Warner Cable Arena on March 20, 2011 in Charlotte, North Carolina.  (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)
Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

North Carolina's Harrison Barnes came into the NCAA this season as the nation's No. 1 recruit and a preseason All-American. 

After a slow start, he has begun to light up the court and perform up to his preseason hype.

Lately, Barnes has been on fire: He's averaged over 18 points per game in the ACC Tournament, including 40 points against Clemson, setting the record for most points from a freshman in an ACC Tournament game.   

Between tournament play and various clutch shots in the latter half of the season, Barnes has earned his place among the league's elite players.

The question arises for Barnes at this point in the season, as it does for all the star players of the NCAA: Will he return for another year?

Sources say that Barnes is a committed player to the game of basketball and that he "wants to make his mark" during his time in North Carolina. On top of his dedication to the team, the NBA is looking to have a possible lockout in the upcoming offseason, much like the NFL.

Currently, Barnes is projected to be the fourth overall pick in the 2011 NBA Draft. But looking closer into the stipulations of Barnes' decision, is that good enough for him?

At this point in time, Barnes' status has nowhere to go but up. So, why would he risk sitting out a year due to the NBA's lockout, not receiving any money or playing time, when he could be continuing his legacy with the Tar Heels?

The current rumors are that Barnes would like to return for another year, but it could be to settle the crowd. No athlete is going to claim to be interested in leaving midseason in the middle of a NCAA Tournament run.

Like every draft-ready collegiate player, it is his decision. When it comes down to it, Barnes will make the best decision regarding himself and his family. 

He will succeed wherever he goes.