ESPN No. 1 ranked high school senior and Duke commit R.J. Barrett has already started to feel the fire from fans around the country who love to hate the Blue Devils.
The well-liked and affable Barrett, the former top junior who led his native Canada to the 2017 U19 FIBA World Cup gold medal in July and recently reclassified into the 2018 class, is now starting to hear jeers on the road for the first time.
“I notice those boos now,” Barrett told USA Today. “I knew all about how people didn’t like Duke and everything like that. But now that I’m a part of the Duke family I guess I’m getting that hate too.”
But Barrett said the negative reactions just motivate him.
“That kind of stuff drives me so much more,” said Barrett. “It’s like a pressure to perform. It keeps me sharp. That’s one of the things I loved about Duke.”
Barrett, an explosive 6-7 forward out of Montverde Academy (FL), averaged a whopping 28 points and 10.2 rebounds this spring on the Nike EYBL circuit for UPlayCanada.
This summer, Barrett led Canada to the gold medal at the 2017 U19 FIBA World Cup in Cairo, Egypt where he was named tournament MVP.
Along the way to the title, Barrett poured in 38 points with 13 boards to shock the mighty USA squad 99-87 in the World Cup semifinals.
“Everyone was talking about our win over Team USA in the semifinals because no one really gave us a chance to win that one,” said Barrett. “Every time I step on the court I take it as an opportunity to get better and separate myself from everyone else, so I took this game as another challenge because everyone on that team was an elite player at the highest level. I’m a very confident player anyway, but this game really helped me take that confidence to another level.”
TheRinger.com’s Jonathan Tjarks said that Barrett is a budding superstar.
“He already looks like one of the best prospects in the world, regardless of age,” wrote Tjarks of the 17-year-old Barrett. “Canada has produced some great young players over the past few years, and he has a chance to be the best of all of them.”
His father is Rowan Barrett, a Canadian basketball star who played with former NBA MVP Steve Nash on Canada’s 2000 Olympic team.
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