Top-Ranked RJ Barrett Looking for World Team Win
When the World Team faces off against the USA Junior National Select Team in the 21st annual Nike Hoop Summit on Friday, April 13, in Portland, Oregon, the international squad will feature ESPN’s top-ranked player in the high school class of 2018 – R.J. Barrett.
Attending Montverde Academy in Florida, the 6-foot-7 Canadian is making his second Nike Hoop Summit appearance after having contributed nine points two rebounds and two assists in a 2017 loss to the USA.
“Last year was an opportunity for me to play against older guys, to play against USA Basketball and to have the NBA scout look at me for the first time,” Barrett said. “We lost last year, but this year we have a new team, and we are going to try and get a win.”
The Nike Hoop Summit loss, however, wasn’t the last time he faced the Americans in 2017.
A few months later, Barrett led Canada to its first gold medal at the FIBA U19 World Cup in Cairo, Egypt. Behind Barret’s 38 points, 13 rebounds and five assists, Canada knocked off the USA in the semifinals. Barrett averaged a team-leading 21.6 points per game, and he was named MVP of the championship.
“For me, it does carry over,” Barrett said of his U19 experience. “We beat the USA, so it is not anything new for me, and we hope to do it again.”
While a remarkable nine World Team members played basketball in the USA this past prep season, three are underclassman and Barrett is the only international team member headed to Duke University in the fall, where he will join USA team members Tre Jones (Apple Valley H.S./Apple Valley, Minn.), Cam Reddish (Westtown School/Norristown, Pa.) and Zion Williamson (Spartanburg Day School/Spartanburg, S.C.).
“A couple of my opponents are actually going to be my Duke teammates, so it’s pretty fun getting to play against each other. We are all competitive, and we are all trying to get at each other.”
Barrett will have a familiar leader at the 2018 Nike Hoop Summit in World Team head coach Roy Rana, a fellow Canadian who was head coach of the 2017 World Select Team and the 2017 Canada U19 National Team.
The comfort of a familiar coach should help Barrett as the World Team tries to form a cohesive unit out of 12 players from nine different countries.
“We pass the ball, share the ball a lot, and everybody listens to coach, so we should be fine,” Barrett said.