Sports

RJ Barrett set an ACC scoring record. Now the Duke freshman is heading to the NBA.

Duke’s RJ Barrett reflects on the season after loss to Michigan State in Elite 8

Duke's RJ Barrett talks about the loss and reflects on the season after the Blue Devils lost to Michigan State in the Elite 8 in Washington, D.C., Sunday, March 31, 2019.
Up Next
Duke's RJ Barrett talks about the loss and reflects on the season after the Blue Devils lost to Michigan State in the Elite 8 in Washington, D.C., Sunday, March 31, 2019.

Following one of the most productive offensive season in school history, Duke’s RJ Barrett is heading to the NBA.

The 6-7 freshman forward from Canada, a consensus all-American after averaging 22.6 points per game, declared for the NBA Draft on Wednesday morning.

Barrett tied with fellow Duke freshman Zion Williamson for the top scoring average in the ACC this season. They led Duke (32-6) to the ACC tournament championship and the No. 1 ranking in the final Associated Press poll. The Blue Devils’ NCAA tournament run ended with a 68-67 loss to Michigan State in the East Region final.

“We had a great year,” Barrett said in a video posted on his Twitter feed. “We were ACC champs. It was amazing to play for Coach K, play for the brotherhood. It was a dream of mine to play at Duke ever since I was a young kid It’s also a dream of mine to play in the NBA and have great success there. After discussing with my family and coaches, I’ve decided that I will be declaring for the 2019 NBA Draft.”

Barrett started every Duke game this season, scoring 13 points or better in each of them. His 860 points not only set a new ACC freshman scoring record, they give him the second-best scoring output in a single season by any Duke player. Only JJ Reddick, with 964 points in 2006, scored more in a single season with the Blue Devils.

Duke basketball coach Mike Krzyzewski discusses RJ Barrett's aggressive play and playmaking, which helped him be the ACC's leading scorer for the 2018-19 season.

While Williamson is projected to be the No. 1 overall pick in this June’s NBA Draft, Barrett is expected to be selected among the top three players.

“From start to finish, RJ was there every second,” Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski said in a statement. “He played the most minutes, broke scoring records and was consistently excellent. He became one of our best defensive rebounders, and was close to triple-doubles quite a bit because of his scoring, rebounding and assists. Having reclassified to come to Duke early, he’s just so advanced for this stage of his career. He comes from an incredible family, he’s a winner in every sense, and it was so special to have RJ in our program.”

In addition to his scoring, Barrett averaged 7.6 rebounds and 4.3 assists per game. Both were second on the team. He made 45.4 percent of his shots, including 30.8 percent of his 3-pointers, while hitting 66.5 percent of his free throws.

Barrett recorded Duke’s first triple-double since 2006 with 21 points, 11 rebounds and 10 assists in a 94-78 home win over N.C. State on Feb. 16.

“I really just want to thank the Crazies, thank the whole Duke community for everything you’ve given me,” Barrett said. “I’ll always be a part of the brotherhood. I hold that very near and dear to my heart. I’m looking forward to coming back and supporting the Blue Devils in any way I can.”

Williamson and fellow freshman Cam Reddish are also preparing to enter the NBA Draft. Like Barrett, both are projected to be among the top 10 selections. Neither has made an official announcement regarding their plans.

An Illinois native, Steve Wiseman has covered Duke athletics since 2010 for the Durham Herald-Sun and Raleigh News & Observer. Prior to his arrival in Durham, he worked for newspapers in Columbia and Spartanburg, S.C., Biloxi, Miss., and Charlotte covering beats including the NFL’s Carolina Panthers and New Orleans Saints, University of South Carolina athletics and the S.C. General Assembly.
  Comments