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Harrison Barnes and Trevor Releford: Day 3 of the Jayhawk Invitational

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At 6-foot-6, top-rated recruit Harrison Barnes may look like a small forward and play like a small forward.

But he’ll tell you he’s not.

“Actually,” he said on Sunday, “I consider myself a guard.”

Fair enough.

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Though Barnes is the top-ranked small forward in the class of 2010 in both Rivals.com and Scout.com’s rankings, the junior proved Sunday that playing shooting guard in college might not be such a stretch.

Barnes scored 24 points on 7-for-15 shooting, but he was nearly perfect from the perimeter, making three of his four threes.

The 206-pounder credited AAU coach Jake Sullivan (yes, that Jake Sullivan) with helping him on his shooting mechanics. Barnes has taken off from there.

Barnes’ insistence that he is a guard and not a forward does answer a few questions I had about him after watching him Friday. I wondered why he was guarding KU commit Royce Woolridge, who played both point guard and shooting guard for his team. I also wondered why Barnes hadn’t been more aggressive getting rebounds inside. I guess if you consider yourself a tall guard, that’s not your main responsibility.

Barnes finished with 24 points Sunday, making seven of his eight free throws. All of his threes came in the second half, and he added six rebounds and two assists to go with one turnover.

I also was impressed by Barnes’ ability to not force things offensively. I’m sure the temptation as a top-10 recruit is to try to take over the game yourself, especially on the AAU circuit. Barnes didn’t do that, and his team was better for it.

Meanwhile, the championship game was another showcase performance for K.C. Pump N Run’s Trevor Releford.

Releford, from Bishop Miege High School, stood out in the first half with his penetration and spinning layups inside. He made his first eight field-goal attempts — mostly underhanded lay-ins from tough angles off the glass — and finished with 30 points on 13-for-16 shooting. He also added seven assists, two steals and a rebound to go with three turnovers.

The question with Trevor is always going to be his height. He’s listed at 5-foot-10, and even that might be an inch or so generous.

Still, if I had walked into the gym not knowing who anyone was, I would have left thinking Releford and Barnes were the same level of player. Releford was that good on Sunday.

I left impressed by both his ball-handling and passing. Like Barnes, I also appreciated that Releford played within himself, as he didn’t jack up a bunch of shots outside of the flow of the offense. His 81-percent field-goal percentage proved that.

Though Releford hasn’t been getting much love from recruiting services yet, I would expect that’ll change if he continues to put up performances like he did Sunday.

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