RJ Barrett tops ESPN 2019 Rankings
Barrett and teammate Andrew Nembard made a statement this summer at the EYBL’s Nike Peach Jam, leading UPlay Canada to the U16 Finals where they fell to All-Ohio Red. The performance definitely turned some heads and put both players and UPlay on the map, with their team expected to be one of the top teams in the U17 division next year.
ESPN national recruiting director Paul Biancardi broke down RJ’s game and what makes him so special.
“Super athletic, we love his versatility. He’s a guy who can finish on the break, and in the half court set,” said Biancardi.
— Canada Basketball (@CanBball) August 29, 2016
“We love his finishing ability, his playmaking ability, his activity on the glass. In a nationally televised game, as a freshman, he made some pressure free throws for Montverde in the win. This young man is only going to get better.”
Andrew Nembhard, an Aurora, Ontario native who will be joining RJ at Montverde this season, sits at the #15 spot on the list and is the only other Canadian to join RJ on the 2019’s Top 25. Nembhard ranks as the #2 Point Guard on the list, while the 6’7” Barrett is listed at Small Forward.
What is most impressive about these two UPlay products making this list is the minimal amount of elite American competition the young Canadians have seen. But at the EYBL’s Peach Jam, Barrett and Nembhard’s UPlay team moved up an age group and finished with a 5-1 record in the U16 division.
Up until last year Nembhard was playing his high school basketball at Vaughan Secondary, and had little exposure to the ultra-competitive American landscape. To go from an unknown commodity to the #15 spot in your draft class is an incredible feat, and speaks to the showing Nembhard put on at the Peach Jam.