Mississauga’s R.J. Barrett has been named the recipient of the 2018 Naismith high school basketball player of the year, the highest honour a player of his class can receive.

Barrett, 17, is ranked the top male high school basketball player in North America and led his Montverde Academy to a 31-0 record this year.

An elementary student at Horizon Jeunesse in Clarkson before attending St. Marcellinus Secondary School in north Mississauga, Barrett has been attending Montverde, a private college preparatory school in Florida.

The six foot six inch, 180-pound star is slated to attend Duke University next year and has been tabbed as a future top pick in the National Basketball Association draft.

He becomes the second Canadian to win the award following Andrew Wiggins, who was the recipient in 2013. The Canadian connection is also strong in that the award is named after Dr. James Naismith from Almonte, Ontario, the inventor of the game of basketball.

“It is an honour to receive the Naismith Player of the Year award,” said Barrett. “I want to thank God, my family, friends, teammates, coaches and the Montverde community, as well as all the people who voted for me.”

The award builds on Barrett’s already strong resume as he was also the leading player helping Canada take the gold medal at the FIBA under-19 basketball World Cup last year. As well, he has earned MVP honours at several major tournaments this year.

Barrett’s pedigree is outstanding. 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.

The Naismith Award, administered and presented by the Atlanta Tipoff Club, is selected by basketball journalists across the United States and is based on outstanding performances during the 2017-18 high school basketball season.

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