The Mavs have signed Harrison Barnes, the intriguing young forward who most recently played for the Golden State Warriors and won a championship with the franchise in 2015, to an offer sheet. Barnes is perhaps the Mavericks’ most significant free-agent signing in history.
The four-year vet will almost certainly start for the Mavericks right away, and he’ll likely play major minutes for a team looking to get back into the playoffs and make some noise in the loaded Western Conference. But before he competes in Mavs blue, here are some facts about the 24-year-old to help you get to know him off the floor.
1. Barnes will play for Team USA in the 2016 Summer Olympics. While the Mavericks have had many players represent their countries in recent competitions — including Dirk Nowitzki, J.J. Barea, and Dwight Powell just last summer — Barnes will become the first Maverick to wear the Team USA jersey in Olympic competition since Jason Kidd won gold with the “Redeem Team” in 2008. Most recently, former Mavs center Tyson Chandler won gold for his country at the World Championships in 2010 before winning the 2011 NBA title with the Mavericks less than a year later. International experience can not only improve a player’s basketball abilities, but also his leadership abilities, as well.
2. He competed against Justin Anderson at the AAU level. Although their college careers didn’t intersect, the Mavs’ second-year wing said he faced off against Barnes’ squad once or twice on the AAU circuit. Although they all grow up in different places, rising prospects always find a way to square off. Anderson said Barnes is a nice guy and they had a few conversations last season when the Mavs played the Warriors. Now, they’re teammates.
3. He was the No. 1 prospect coming out of high school. Given a five-star rating by Scout and Rivals, and a grade of 98 by ESPN, Barnes was the No. 1 overall player in the class of 2010 as ranked by both Scout and ESPN. He won back-to-back Iowa 4A state championships — and went undefeated — during his junior and senior seasons playing with future fellow NBA player Doug McDermott. He averaged 27.1 points, 10.4 rebounds, 4.0 assists, and 4.0 steals as a senior and graduated as Ames High School’s all-time leading scorer with 1,787 points.
4. But he’s not only good at basketball. Barnes graduated near the top of his class in high school and gathered enough AP credits in high school to bypass intro classes at North Carolina, where he majored in business administration. His mother, Shirley, would also put Barnes through rigorous mock interviews to make sure he not only carried himself well on the floor, but also off of it.
5. He scored a UNC-record 84 points in the 2011 NCAA Tournament. His tourney performances included a 24-point, 16-rebound gem against LIU-Brooklyn and a 22-point outing against Washington in which he drained five 3s. Barnes and the Tar Heels advanced to the Elite Eight before losing to Kentucky, 76-69.
6. Barnes landed on the All-Rookie First Team during his inaugural season. As a rookie, he averaged 9.2 points and 4.1 rebounds per game for the Warriors, helping the franchise end a long playoff drought. He upped his productivity in the postseason, averaging 16.1 points and 6.4 rebounds per game as the Warriors upset the No. 3-seeded Denver Nuggets before losing to the San Antonio Spurs in the second round.
7. He can play the saxophone. Barnes’ mother was a secretary in the music school at Iowa State, so growing up he would go to concerts at the school. He admired how such a large group of people could come together as one and play together. (Sounds a little like basketball, eh?) He first picked up the instrument in fifth grade, and even marched in the band in high school; he also played cello. Barnes entered the NBA Talent Challenge last season, playing John Legend’s “All of Me” on the alto sax.
8. He possibly has political aspirations. Whether he was being serious or not, Barnes has expressed interest in a political career once his basketball playing days are over. Growing up in Iowa, the first state to hold a caucus each presidential cycle, the young wing has seen how competitive election races can be. Two of his favorite former NBA players, Bill Bradley and Kevin Johnson, have gone on to have successful political careers. “It’s something I’ve thought about,” Barnes said. “I don’t know if it’s holding a position at the state level or at the national level or just going grass-roots style and trying to effect change that way.”
9. Barnes played a major role in the Warriors’ 2015 championship run. Were it not for him, there’s no guarantee Golden State would have even beat the Memphis Grizzlies in the second round. Barnes’ ability to defend the much bigger Zach Randolph in the post sparked a defensive adjustment which turned a 2-1 series deficit into a 4-2 victory for the Warriors, as Memphis couldn’t match the smaller Dubs’ pace. Randolph scored just 40 points combined in the final three games of the series after tallying 62 in the first three.
10. Only 23 players in NBA history have scored 10+ points in the Finals at an age younger than Barnes, at 23 years and 5 days old, per Basketball-Reference. It’s easy to view Steph Curry and Klay Thompson as the young leaders of that Warriors team, but Barnes was at least two years younger than anyone else in Golden State’s rotation. His best basketball his still ahead of him, but he already has plenty of playoff experience and a championship ring to show for it.