After months of consideration, basketball's most sought-after prospect is finally committing to a NCAA team. Mississauga native, R.J. Barrett, appeared on TSN's SportCentre last night to make the news official, announcing his decision to play for Duke University. The Canadian basketball phenom will begin his collegiate campaign starting next season, and the 17-year-old sensation is expected to make an immediate impact.
For the last while, Barrett has honed his skills playing at Florida's Montverde Academy. In addition to this brief stint, the 6-foot-6 small forward played eight games on the Nike EYBL circuit this past spring where he dominated his opposition, averaging 28.0 points, 10.8 rebounds and 3.0 assists. Barrett's real breakthrough, however, was during the FIBA U19 championship this summer, where he helped his Canadian team take home the gold medal. Consistent performances like these have helped to propel R.J. to the top of the prospect pool, with many scouts now expecting him to be selected first overall in the 2019 NBA draft.
Duke wasn't the only program in the mix for Barrett. According to several reports, both Oregon and Kentucky made a considerable push to land the teenager. Eventually, it was Duke's excellent reputation and drafting pedigree that won him over. Barrett is yet another stellar addition to the Blue Devils who boast young stars like Tre Jones and Cam Reddish, both of whom are considered to be blue-chip prospects. Speaking with the Canadian Press, R.J.'s father, former St. John's player Rowan Barrett, shared his son's excitement. "Clearly there’s emotion there. I was excited, happy… Let’s go! What’s next? Let’s get working!"
You can watch some of what's to come below via a FIBA highlight pack.