Harrison Barnes couldn’t believe the love he received on Thursday night.
The current NBA star and former Ames High and North Carolina great was on hand for the grand opening of the new Harrison Barnes Gymnasium and Courthouse at Ames High School. He has received countless thanks for helping to make this state-of-the-art gymnasium a reality.
“That’s a lot of love,” Barnes said. “To be able to come back here, to see so many familiar faces, to be able to tell people thank you for allowing me to be successful, for embracing my family and for continuing to support me.”
Barnes wanted nothing but the best for the school that helped him become an NBA great.
Barnes becomes a star in Ames
He started out as a scrawny freshman unsure if he’d ever make it through college and went on to lead Ames on a 53-game winning streak that included back-to-back undefeated state championships in 2009 and 2010. During his time as the Little Cyclone, Barnes surpassed the great Fred Hoiberg as the school’s all-time leading scorer with 1,787 points, made the all-state first team, earned player honors Gatorade of the Year and was named Mr. Basketball in Iowa.
Barnes was a McDonald’s All-American in high school and widely considered the top rookie in the nation when he signed to play for Roy Williams in North Carolina in front of a packed Ames High Gym on November 13, 2009. Barnes played two years at La North Carolina, averaging 16.3 points and 5.6 rebounds, was named the ACC Rookie of the Year in 2011 and earned second-team All-American honors in 2012.
Barnes enjoys professional and Olympic success
Barnes was drafted seventh overall in the first round of the 2012 NBA draft by Golden State. He helped the Warriors win the NBA championship in 2015.
Barnes signed with the Dallas Mavericks ahead of the 2016-17 season and averaged 19.2 career points in his first season with the Mavericks. In 2018-19, he was traded to his current team, the Sacramento Kings.
Barnes was selected to the United States Men’s National Basketball Team in 2016. He helped the United States team win a gold medal at the Games in Rio de Janeiro.
After:New Ames High gymnasium named ‘Harrison Barnes Gymnasium and Court’
After:How does this year’s Ames boys’ basketball team compare to the teams of Harrison Barnes and Doug McDermott?
After:Ames’ volleyball gives Harrison Barnes Court a good introduction. The Little Cyclones win the opening game.
Gratitude for support from Ames Coaches, Community
His journey to becoming one of the best basketball players in the world is an inspiration to young athletes in the Ames community, many of whom lined up to get Barnes’ autograph after Thursday’s ceremony.
“I didn’t even think I was going to make college my freshman year, let alone stay on the team when Coach (Vance) Downs was running us up and down,” Barnes said. “I’m really lucky to be in this position. Hopefully these children here today will see that they can do whatever they want.
Tamin Lipsey is one of those young athletes looking to follow in Barnes’ footsteps. Lipsey led Ames to the 2022 Class 4A State Championship and is now a member of the Iowa State men’s basketball team. He was on hand for the dedication on Thursday.
“It’s my first time at the new gym and Harrison is going to be there,” Lipsey said. “It’s just a cool moment to have him back after all he’s done for Ames.”
After dispatching the old Ames High gymnasium with a Lipsey Championship, he loved his first look at the new state-of-the-art gymnasium.
“It’s so open,” Lipsey said. “Everything is brand new. New baskets, big logos and dashboards. Everything is super nice.
Barnes’ comments on the new facility
Former Ames sporting director Judge Johnston played an important role in Thursday’s ceremony. He helped get the ball rolling on the new Ames High School about three years ago and was glad Barnes was there to give his thoughts on the new gymnasium.
“When we entered the first phase of the design, we knew we were going to have a great gym,” Johnston said. “But Harrison wanted something special. We started talking with him and his family and what he would like to see. He talked about the NBA experience… the video cards, the lighting and the systems PA hoops, NBA hoops with game clocks. It’s the Cadillac of gymnasiums right now in Iowa and maybe the Midwest until someone passes it.
Johnston was part of Barnes’ record-breaking run at Ames and said no one deserved such a big welcome after all Barnes had done for Ames High and the community.
“We’re talking about an amazing individual,” Johnston said. “He and his family give back to so many organizations. They are generous and it feels good.
Downs echoed Johnston’s feelings for Barnes and what he meant to Ames.
“Harrison and his family’s contributions — aesthetically, it’s just wonderful,” Downs said. “Then the fact that it’s a guy from Ames High giving back to Ames High makes it really special.”
They weren’t the only ones showing their admiration for Barnes on Thursday night.
“Harrison Barnes Day”
Several community and business leaders took the stage to thank Barnes for his contributions to the school and the community over the years. Former teachers and coaches, including Williams and North Carolina Golden State Warriors coach Steve Kerr, offered touching tributes on the gym’s video board.
Ames Mayor John Haila declared Harrison Barnes Day in Ames on Thursday.
“It’s so much to digest,” Barnes said. “The people in the video saying thank you, the people who are here right now and have been supporting me for years. It means a lot to know what you’re doing really matters. It’s nice to win basketball games, but especially to have an impact on others.”
To top it off, current Ames AD Lyle Fedders announced that Barnes was officially inducted into the Ames High Athletic Hall of Fame.
“I didn’t know (about) that,” Barnes said. “It was a pretty special addition to all of that.”
Fedders said no one deserved more.
“What an amazing guy,” Fedders said. “He continues to give his whole heart to the Ames community. When you get to a place where you are able to help the community, you want to go out and make your community better. He absolutely does it in different ways.