Mississauga’s Barrett picks Duke on his road to the pros

One of the most highly recruited high school basketball stars in North America has chosen which university he will attend next year.

Mississauga’s R.J. Barrett announced last night he’s going to Duke University in Durham, North Carolina to play for the legendary Mike Krzyzewski and the Blue Devils.

“It just feels like home, the place I should be,” Barrett told a crowd of reporters at Brampton’s Lionhead Golf and Conference Centre where the announcement was made. Currently attending Montverde Academy, a private college preparatory school in Florida, the 17-year-old said he wanted to come home to Canada to make the announcement. “I wanted to be with friends and family and where it all started.”

At 6-foot-6 and 180 lbs, Barrett is considered a top-flight prospect and a potential number one pick overall in the NBA draft, which could come as early as 2019 depending if he leaves college early, as he is expected to do.

An elementary student at Horizon Jeunesse in Clarkson before attending St. Marcellinus Secondary School in North Mississauga, Barrett has since been playing in the US to prepare him for his eventual leap into the professional ranks.

Already seasoned at winning, Barrett earned MVP honours when he led Canada to the Under-19 International Basketball Federation (FIBA) World Cup this past summer.

Barrett’s pedigree is an outstanding one. His father, Rowan Barrett, was a basketball standout at St. John’s University in New York and eventually played for Canada’s Olympic squad at the 2000 games. His mother, Kesha Barrett, also attended St. John’s where she was a nationally ranked sprinter and long jumper. His aunt, Dahlia Duhaney was a world-class sprinter. His godfather is two-time NBA Most Valuable Player Steve Nash.

Speaking to reporters, Barrett said he narrowed his choices down to Kentucky and Oregon as well before finally choosing Duke.

“It feels very similar to the school I am at now and what I’m used to,” said Barrett stressing the diversity that Duke offers. An academic, he also speaks fluent French that he learned through immersion programs offered through his educational training in Mississauga.

Still, at Duke, Barrett will be part of a major basketball program with an extremely high profile that has won five national college championships and has sent such current stars to the NBA as Kyrie Irving, Jahlil Okafor  and Jabari Parker as well as retired players Grant Hill, Danny Ferry, Shane Battier, Bobby Hurley and Christian Laettner.

Richard Nixon, the 37th president of the United States, also attended Duke.

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