Duke

Can Duke land RJ Barrett, the nation’s No. 1 basketball recruiting target?

Montverde Academy’s RJ Barrett shoots a free throw against Bishop Montgomery at the 2017 Hoophall Classic in January. Barrett, a small forward, is the No. 1 recruit in the country.
Montverde Academy’s RJ Barrett shoots a free throw against Bishop Montgomery at the 2017 Hoophall Classic in January. Barrett, a small forward, is the No. 1 recruit in the country. Gregory Payan - AP

R.J. Barrett, the country’s No. 1 basketball prospect, is down to three schools, and Duke is one of them, he announced in a tweet Saturday.

The others are Kentucky and Oregon. Barrett previously had Arizona among his final schools, but the school is said to be implicated in a scandal involving a bribery scheme.

Barrett had planned an official visit to Michigan but canceled it for unrelated reasons.

It is not clear when Barrett will announce his decision, but having taken official visits to all three schools already, it is expected to come soon.

Barrett, a 6-6, 180-pound, five-star small forward who’s from Canada, plays at Montverde Academy in Florida. He reclassified from the Class of 2019 to 2018 earlier this summer. In July, he averaged 21.6 points, 8.3 rebounds and 4.6 assists a game for Canada at the FIBU U19 World Cup.

Barrett put up a huge performance in the semifinals of the tournament and helped Canada upset the John Calipari-led Team USA 99-87. Barrett scored 38 points, grabbed 13 rebounds and dished out five assists. It was the most points ever against Team USA in the FIBA U19 Men’s Basketball World Championships.

“At 6-6, he has terrific size for the position,” said Evan Daniels, a national recruiting analyst for Scout and 247sports. “Where he really shines is his ability to score. He’s a lefty who can score and get to the basket.

“But as good of a scorer he is, he is a below average 3-point shooter. ... Once he gets that down, then you’re looking at a really, really good player.”

Team USA’s roster was filled with some of the top prospects in the country, with Calipari as the head coach, and Wake Forest’s Danny Manning as one of the assistants.

Of the 11 predictions made on 247sports Crystal Ball, 55 percent of recruiting experts say Barrett will choose Duke, and 36 percent say he will choose Kentucky.

Barrett took his official visit to Duke from Sept. 15 through Sept. 17. Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski and associate head coach Jeff Capel visited him in Florida last week.

Duke currently has commitments from two Class of 2018 prospects. They are the No. 4 recruit in the country, Cameron Reddish, a 6-8, 195-pound small forward, and the No. 6 recruit and top point guard, Tre Jones, who is 6-2, 175 pounds.

Daniels declined to give a prediction on who he thought Barrett would choose, but said if he does choose Duke, the Blue Devils would have one of the best backcourts in the country.

“If Duke rolls out Tre Jones, R.J. Barrett and Cameron Reddish, you’re looking at a ridiculous perimeter, with some pretty impressive scorers all around,” Daniels said.

Efforts to reach Barrett or his high coach, Kevin Boyle, were unsuccessful.

Video: Duke basketball coach Mike Krzyzewski says that college basketball hasn't changed with the sport's landscape and the recent NCAA scandal brings this to light. Krzyzewski was talking with reporters during a press conference in Durham, NC on

Jonathan M. Alexander: 919-829-4822, @jonmalexander

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