AMES, Iowa — It was homecoming night at Ames High School for one NBA star Harrison Barnes. The 2010 Ames High graduate was honored at the opening of the school’s new gym on Thursday.
The school formally opened the Harrison Barnes Gymnasium and Court. Barnes donated money towards the completion of a state of the art gym.
Ames Mayor John Haila proclaimed September 15 as Harrison Barnes Day in the city.
Ames High Athletic Director Lyle Fedders named Barnes to the Ames High School Athletic Hall of Fame. The committee vote for Barnes, was ‘unanimous,’
There were six community groups who wanted to thank Barnes for his donations to organizations and projects.
“We are so grateful for the support of Harrison and Brittnany, and through their foundation, has shown the city and to the children of our community,” said Bri Anderson, of the Ames Public Library. “In 2017 Harrison helped sponsor the Harrison Barnes reading academy.”
Anderson shared the story of a young man who came to the reading program because of Harrison Barnes. That young man went on and did well in high school, and is now in college. Another story was shared about Barnes giving to the Ames Miracle Field.
“I’m not a fundraiser but Harrison made it easy for me,” said Sheila Lundt, of the Ames Foundation. “I had talked to his godmother Vanessa, I said do you think that Harrison would be interested in helping us out with this, and after a series of letters and communications, Harrison was one of the very first very largest, lead donors on that project.”
Barnes’ High School Basketball Coach Vance Downs took the stage. He recounted how he first saw this lanky kid in 9th grade. When he saw him dunk, he decided he would move him up to varsity. He recalled the time Harrison came home with a “C” on his report card. That was not acceptable to his mother, who thought maybe he should skip a game in Waterloo. Downs had a conversation with her, and Harrison was able to play the game.
Former Ames High Athletic Director Judge Johnston remembered Harrison and how the team drew packed houses to AHS basketball. The place was full of college coaches and scouts, some famous, and some watched quietly.
Video tributes were played on the big screens. Harrison’s college coach, Roy Williams, Golden State Coach, Steve Kerr (on celebrating an NBA Championship) and Rick Carlisle, all congratulated Harrison on being named to the AHS Athletic Hall of Fame.
Barnes later took the microphone and thanked teachers for helping him in the classroom. Many of his former teachers were on hand to cheer his presentation. Barnes also thanked many of his gym buddies for hours of one on one play. He gave credit to his team mates for their efforts.
Barnes credited many people for his success, but most of all, his mother, Shirley.
“You also brought up my mom, who most of you guys know, give a shout out to her and my sister for one helping organize this thing, as Judge will attest to, my mom is huge at making sure that everyone is credited and taken care of,” said Barnes. “She has a servant’s heart, all of my generosity, philanthropy, is rooted solely in her. She was always one to give to everyone growing up, so that’s just something I always embodied but I wouldn’t be here today if it wasn’t for her sacrifice.”
Barnes played basketball at North Carolina in college and went on to play in the NBA. Barnes now plays for the Sacramento Kings.