Where Will RJ Barrett Land? Kentucky, Oregon or Duke?
The time is almost here for Rowan Barrett Jr to make the biggest decision of his young basketball career. On Friday, Nov. 10 the 17-year-old phenom from Mississauga, ON will make his decision as to where he will play collegiate basketball.
Barrett’s decision to reclassify has not changed his recruitment ranking as he ranks No. 1 on the ESPN Top 100 Rankings. He has the potential to become the greatest Canadian basketball player of all time, with arguably his biggest hurdle being his godfather Steve Nash. But before we go there, Andrew Wiggins, Jamal Murray cannot be overlooked…on missions of their own.
Barrett announced on his blog for USA Today on Oct. 6 that he narrowed his list down to a final three of Duke, Oregon and Kentucky. So where will he go?
NPH National Scout Tariq Sbiet has been analyzing RJ’s career and growth since the eighth grade and believes he could be the missing piece to one of these three contenders for an NCAA National Championship.
“If I’m a betting man, I’m all in on whoever gets RJ, to win the National Championship. I’m that confident in RJ and his ability to win, lead and shine in the brightest of moments. They’re all Final Four contenders and adding the number one player in the world, will help your chances.”
Sbiet makes his case for each program and shares his personal opinion.
Fun fact: Oregon has had at least one Canadian on the roster for five consecutive seasons. We stand on GUARD for thee! pic.twitter.com/yncY74Rd2w
— Oregon Men's Basketball (@OregonMBB) November 9, 2017
Oregon Ducks have a recent rich history of Canadians playing for the program with the most notable being NBA rookie Dillon Brooks of the Memphis Grizzlies.
What may give Oregon an edge over the other programs is Abu Kigab. Kigab and Barrett spent this summer in Egypt winning a historic gold medal for Canada at the World Championships.
“They’ve easily done the best job recruiting Canadian players over the years. They have been in Canada the most and invested the most time and energy into it. This is what gives them an edge, along Abu Kigab,” explained Sbiet.
“He’s a huge X-factor because when you win a World Championship together, that’s a special bond. He’s the only one in the NCAA from those schools (Duke, Oregon and Kentucky) that has a player with a world champion teammate. This is also a basketball program that has been getting better every year, emerging into a national champion contender.”
As pictured above, Oregon has made one last push on Twitter to help sway Barrett towards their school. Their continued commitment and energy to Barrett is one of the reasons he rates them so highly.
Kentucky also has some Canadian ties, second to Oregon, with recent college star [Denver Nuggets guard Jamal Murray] previously on their roster, in addition to Mychal Mulder and Kyle Wiltjer.
Sbiet doesn’t believe it to be a factor, but a little Drizzy Canadian connection doesn’t hurt…a spokesman for the Wildcats.
Then you have Wildcats freshman Shail Gilgeous-Alexander, who shares a relationship both coming out of the same AAU program UPlay Canada, and being the only two high school players to spend time with the senior national team two summers ago.
“The biggest thing RJ cares about is, where will he go to position and prepare himself best for the NBA. He’s going to be there for one year and with Kentucky they have carved out a niche being a one and done NBA factory. That’s where I think Kentucky holds a little bit of an advantage because of that reputation. However, that is not to say both Duke and Oregon do not produce NBA talent,” said Sbiet.
The NBA factory that is Kentucky has produced some of the biggest NBA stars. In recent years players such as Anthony Davis, Demarcus Cousins, Devin Booker, John Wall and others have worn the Wildcats jersey on their way to the NBA.
Duke Blue Devils
In many minds Duke could be the front runner in the RJ Barrett sweep stakes because of the significance the Blue Devils played in Barrett’s life.
In eighth grade, RJ told NPH his dream school would be Duke.
“The biggest X-factor for Duke is RJ having that historical connection with the program and watching Coach K win with Team USA is huge in a family household where international basketball holds weight (father an Olympian).”
“Plain and simple, Duke is big time basketball. When RJ was in eighth grade, he told me it was his dream to play for Duke and when you’re young you develop your wants, desires, goals, and as we know RJ is a goal driven individual. Have things changed since then? Friday will tell us,” said Sbiet.
Being in the recruiting world, there are a lot of ways information could get leaked, and announcements presented; the Barrett family has been very professional and calculated in their approach.
“I know they have kept everything in house. Nobody really knows except for, I would say, RJ, his dad and his mom.
“My guess is, he’s going to Oregon,” said Sbiet.
The basketball world will have to wait until Friday, Nov. 10 at 6 PM when RJ makes his decision known, live on TSN.
The event will be taking place at the Lionhead Golf & Conference Centre in Brampton, ON. Stayed tuned on NorthPoleHoops.com as we have you covered and will be providing coverage live from the announcement in Brampton.