Duke star freshmen Zion Williamson and R.J. Barrett threw down big dunks on Gonzaga during the second half of Wednesday’s Maui Invitational title game.
With the Blue Devils trailing the Bulldogs, Williamson put down a two-handed dunk. Shortly after, Barrett glided in transition and threw down a poster dunk with his left hand. The dunks ignited a Duke run as the No. 1 team in the country is playing with a ton of confidence after the big plays.
Duke incoming freshman R.J. Barrett has made a big impact on the Canadian senior national team during his first two exhibition games.
Considered by some to be the No. 1 incoming freshman in college basketball this season, the 6-foot-7 Barrett averaged 18.5 points per game during Canada’s two exhibition friendlies against the Chinese national team. Canada basketball is preparing for an important stretch as they play in the FIBA Basketball World Cup 2019 Americas Qualifier next.
In the second win, Barrett had 21 points to go along with five assists and three rebounds as he was the team’s leading scorer. Considering that the Canadian senior national team features NBA players and other professionals, this is quite an accomplishment and something to keep an eye on over these next few weeks. Barrett has previously been a star for the Canadian national team, but it has come at the younger levels of FIBA play and not with the senior national team.
It’s one thing to dominant at the U19 level against a John Calipari-coached team of American high school and college stars. It’s another level when established pros are deferring to a player who is fresh out of high school.
Barrett’s development into a potential go-to player is not only intriguing for the future of Canadian men’s basketball, but it’s also important for Duke. Barrett has a chance to be a special talent next season.
With the Blue Devils having a very young team once again next season, they’ll ideally need someone like Barrett to take the burden of being the primary scorer. There isn’t a senior fallback option like Grayson Allen to rely on now that he’s moved on to the NBA. Duke is going to be one of the most talented teams in the country — on paper. But we still need to see how this extremely talented freshman class handles the expectations and the rigors of the ACC.
If Barrett shows an ability to take over games like he’s done with the Canadian senior national team, then it will be a good sign that he can be a dominant offensive player for the Blue Devils this season. It’s also interesting to note that Barrett will be the only member of Duke’s expected rotation who is not on campus with the team during the upcoming July 2nd summer session. Barrett is expected to join the team later this summer as the Blue Devils get an important overseas trip (and 10 extra practice days) to try to get the freshmen playing on the same page.
While Barrett has been the showstopper for the Canadians so far, Florida incoming freshman guard Andrew Nembhard will also be a player to watch with regards to the college ranks in this event. After going scoreless during the first Canadian exhibition win, Nembhard exploded for 18 points and three assists in the second win, as he went an impressive 6-for-7 behind the FIBA three-point line.
R.J. Barrett’s highlights from the FIBA U19 World Championships
R.J. Barrett led Canada to the FIBA U19 World Championships on Sunday with a 79-60 victory over Italy in the title game held in Cario, Egypt.
Barrett, rated as the top overall prospect in the Class of 2019 by Rivals, earned MVP honors for his performance, averaging a tournament-best 21.6 points to go along with 8.6 rebounds and 4.3 assists per game over the seven games.
Joining Barrett on the all-tournament team was teammate Abu Kigab, Payton Pritchard of the U.S., and the Italian duo of Lorenzo Bucarelli and Tommaso Oxilia. Kigab and Pritchard will be teammates this season at Oregon.
The 6-foot-7 Barrett, who plays his prep ball at powerhouse Montverde Academy in Florida, spent this spring playing for UPlay Canada in the Nike EYBL. In eight appearances, he averaged 28.0 points, 10.8 rebounds and 3.0 assists per game.
Top plays from FIBA U19 World Championships (VIDEO)
The FIBA U19 World Championships concluded on Sunday with Canada defeating Italy, 79-60, to claim gold in Egypt.
USA Basketball knocked off Spain, 96-72, to earn bronze. Canada had upset the United States in the semifinals, led by 38 points from R.J. Barrett, considered the top prospect in the Class of 2019.
Barrett, the 6-foot-7 Montverde Academy (Fla.) small forward, was the tournament’s breakout star, returning home with MVP honors. It’s not a surprise that when FIBA released it’s top 10 plays from the event that he made several appearances. Purdue’s Carsen Edwards also earned a spot in the top 10.
The United States won’t be three-peating at the FIBA U19 World Cup.
Canada knocked off the Americans in rather shocking fashion, 99-87, on Saturday in the semifinals to hand the USA its first loss in the event since they finished fifth in 2011.
The top recruit in the class of 2019, R.J. Barrett, had a monster day for the Canadians, posting 38 points, 13 rebounds and five assists before fouling out in the final minutes. He was clearly the best player on the floor for the entire day. Barrett’s huge day helped Canada hand the U.S. a defeat despite being without its captain, Lindell Wigginton. The Iowa State-bound guard missed his second-straight game due to a concussion.
The John Calipari-led Americans looked haggard throughout the day, struggling to find a rhythm offensively or put up much resistance defensively. They shot 58.1 percent from the free-throw line and 26.1 percent from distance.
Kentucky-bound big man P.J. Washington led the way in the scoring column for the USA, tallying 17 points. Auburn’s Austin WIley had 13 points and 17 boards.
Canada will play Italy on Sunday for the U19 championship while Team USA will face Spain in the third-place game.