Earlier today it was announced that Duke Basketball freshman, R.J. Barrett, was named USA Today’s National Player of the Year for the 2018-19 season.
Barrett’s been a solid contributor to the ACC Champions rotation with averages of 22.9 points, 7.5 rebounds, and 4.1 assists per game and missing no time off.
“He can really put it in the basket,” CBS Sports’ Clark Kellogg told me.
“He has the gift of scoring and him being left handed helps.”
In addition to National Player of the Year honors, Barrett was named to the All-ACC First Team, All-ACC Freshman Team and came in second, behind Zion Williamson in the ACC Player and Freshman of the Year Awards.
The Star’s Dave Feschuk notes that the knock on Barrett is that he’s not yet a great shooter.
And his numbers, 30 percent from three-point range and 66 percent from the free-throw line — could certainly use improvement. But he’s shown an undeniable ability to rise to the occasion.
Barrett made six of 10 three-point tries in a big win over Virginia early last month, this with LeBron James watching from the sidelines. And on the road at Syracuse, Barrett punctuated a 30-point, seven-assist, five-rebound performance by nailing a game-sealing jump shot before theatrically touching his left index finger to his mouth to shush the largest crowd in Carrier Dome history.
“Mentally he’s one of the strongest athletes I’ve ever coached. His confidence level under pressure never fades. The lights don’t seem to affect him. He only gets better as the stage gets bigger,” said Roy Rana, who coached Barrett when Canada’s junior national team won gold at the FIBA U19 World Cup in 2017. “I don’t know if that has anything to do with Steve Nash or Rowan Barrett, or any of the other great players he’s had access to. I think that’s just innate — that’s just something he has inside him.”
Clark Kellogg tells me that the key to Barrett being great for Duke during the NCAA Tournament relies on Barrett playing like Barrett.
Translation: Just be yourself…the person who got you to this point!
“He can’t be stopped getting to the rim,” Kellogg tells me.
“The key is, will he have the patience when the going gets tough to not force the issue and still find ways to get it in the basket. But that comes with youth.”