The Harrison Barnes Diary: Official visit to UCLA
Words. Harrison Barnes
While navigating through the hectic recruiting process, HighSchoolHoop’s top-rated player, Ames High (IA) swingman Harrison Barnes, agreed to chronicle his thoughts for us during each of his five official visits. First was North Carolina, followed by Oklahoma, Kansas and Duke. Now Barnes reflects on his last official visit to UCLA last weekend…
First, I would like to say that the UCLA trip was outstanding! When I visited there unofficially this summer, I got a chance to tour the athletic facilities, meet with academic advisors and attend a class, so we didn’t focus on that for this trip.
It gave me a lot more time to spend with Coach (Ben) Howland and his staff. They always said that they were going to recruit me until I signed, and it was truly refreshing to see how they approached my recruitment. They were able to show me the whole UCLA family in its current state, as well as the rich tradition of the past. I got to see how active they are in the community, campus life and just everything going on there. One of the best parts about this trip was that it gave me a chance to hang out with Coach Howland and just bond with him.
So Friday night, Oct. 30, I arrived at LAX and I was greeted by Coach Howland. He took me to the Century Plaza, which is supposed to be a really big deal. When the President comes to L.A., apparently that’s where he stays. It was real plush, just very nice … almost like a delicacy. It was impressive.
We started Saturday around noon and went to Third St. Promenade in Santa Monica for lunch, and that was really cool to just walk around in Cali and see all of the different lifestyles and diversities in the community.
After that we went to watch the team practice. It was different for me to see how intense their practices were and how engaged Coach Howland was. It showed me how dedicated he was to making sure that his players do well. I got to see how his players responded, and that was good. The emphasis was on defense. The key was that defense wins games.
After practice I had dinner with the assistants and the players, and my mom had dinner with Coach Howland and his family. Then I went out with the players and had a chance to enjoy some of the social aspects of the university. Since it was Halloween there were a lot more things going on, especially at some of the frat houses. My hosts were Malcolm Lee and Tyler Honeycutt, and they were cool guys.
Sunday we started with the Dribble for the Cure event, which was where us and a lot of kids in the community got basketballs and dribbled around campus to raise money for a cure for cancer. It was a really cool experience. The kids really looked up to the UCLA players.
After that we had lunch at the Chancellor’s house. That was a good experience to have a conversation with him and his wife. We talked about the university and the rich tradition academically and athletically. That was refreshing.
After that I went to see the UCLA women scrimmage, while my mom and sister were taken to see sights around L.A., Beverly Hills and Hollywood. They also got a chance to go to the Santa Monica beach and pick seashells. They really enjoyed that.
When we were done there we went over to Coach Howland’s to watch the game and have dinner. I have to say that he knows his way around the grill. He made a very good steak! Then I got a chance to hang out with the players at Westwood Village. That was cool.
But Monday morning was probably the most special morning because I got a chance to have breakfast with Coach Howland, Coach John Wooden and his daughter. That was an unreal experience! Just sitting in front of Coach Wooden, who in my opinion is the greatest coach in sports history, was awesome. I was just listening to him quote literature and quote other great leaders … it was exciting.
One of his favorite quotes was from Abraham Lincoln: “It’s better to remain silent and be thought a fool then to speak out and remove all doubt.” That really hit home. Those were like words of wisdom. But it was really fun to be eating with him and see him in his environment. He was still cracking jokes at age 99! It was just a really fun time. I really enjoyed that.
After that I met with the academic coordinator, and as we were finishing up the meeting, Kevin Love stopped in because he was having lunch with the academic coordinator that day. Then we had a quick tour of campus, I had a final meeting with Coach Howland, and we headed back to the airport.
That concluded my official visit tour! I will do an unofficial to Iowa State today (Friday). I have enjoyed all of the officials, but it’s going to be good to make a decision next week.
Well, I’ll let you guys know all about the Iowa State visit next week.