NBA star Harrison Barnes talks hoops and life

John Naughton
The Des Moines Register

Harrison Barnes was raised in Ames. Now he's starring with the NBA's Dallas Mavericks.

Barnes is averaging nearly 20 points a game in his second season with the Mavericks.

He has a great deal of pride in his home state, returning to teach basketball skills in Iowa summer camps.

Barnes led Ames to back-to-back state championships in 2009 and 2010. He went on to play at North Carolina. He was a first-round NBA draft pick in 2012.

After four years with the Golden State Warriors (including a championship in 2015), he went to the Mavericks last season. He was a member of the U.S. Olympic gold medal team in 2016.

The Register's John Naughton, whose relationship with Harrison dates back to Barnes' days at Ames High School, caught up with him.

What do you miss about Iowa, and what do you not miss about it?

I miss the simplicity, the hometown feel, not just in Ames, but Des Moines, Ankeny, Cedar Rapids. In a lot of places, you don't really feel that. I don't miss the weather.

What's the biggest change for you since going to Dallas?

On the court, just a bigger role. Going to Dallas, I'm kind of going to be a leader (on the court). That's been one of the biggest adjustments, is to be more of a vocal leader.

What's your team outlook for the season?

I think we have some potential. We have guys trying to get better, trying to get quicker. It's a good outlook.

Harrison Barnes speaks at one of his basketball camps in 2015.

You were in Iowa last summer to host your basketball camps. What's it like teaching the game to younger Iowans?

I can relate to them so much, because I was in their position once. It's great just to be able to pass it on. I hope to be able to continue to do that.

College basketball has been rocked by the Adidas scandal. What do you think?

Some reform needs to happen at some level. It seems like something is not right with the system.

Harrison Barnes led Ames to two state championships.

How many times do you run into people who know you from your days in Iowa?

All the time. I hear, "Hey, I used to see you when you played at Ames High." It happens no matter where basketball takes me. It's great to have that type of support.

Ames High School's football team discovered a racist message in its locker room after its last game of the season. What's your take?

It's disappointing to see stuff like that, especially for kids trying to go to school and be part of a team. It's really a reflection of what's going on in society, in the NBA and the NFL. Conversation is talking and listening. I think these conversations need to be held.

What else?

The state of Iowa means a lot to me ... I'm looking to invest in a family business that retains and creates jobs. (Inquiries: Contact Tom Fisher at