RJ Barrett's high school coach said he thinks his former player "deserved more attention" in his freshman season at Duke and that Barrett has a "great" case to be the No. 1 NBA draft pick — over teammate and presumptive top pick Zion Williamson.
Kevin Boyle coached Barrett at Montverde Academy (Fla.) and praised the 18-year-old for how he shared the spotlight and played the Scottie Pippen role to Williamson's Michael Jordan.
“You see how he handled himself this year,’’ Boyle said Monday in an appearance on “MSG 150," per the New York Post. "You have an incredible player in Zion Williamson. And obviously they’re both great players. You can make a great argument for both to be No. 1 in the draft. And Zion deserved all the attention he got. But RJ probably deserved more attention than he received. And he was never jealous. He was happy for his friend. Happy for the team. And I think that’s a rare quality in today’s kids.”
Teammates Zion Williamson and RJ Barrett of the Duke Blue Devils. (Photo: Streeter Lecka, Getty Images)
Barrett was USA TODAY Sports' national player of the year, but the highlight-reeling Williamson, Barrett's close friend and college roommate in Durham, hogged the spotlight throughout 2018-19. Williamson is widely expected to be drafted by the New Orleans Pelicans with the first pick, while Barrett is forecast to go to the New York Knicks at No. 3.
Boyle previously coached Kyrie Irving, Ben Simmons, Joel Embiid and D'Angelo Russell in high school. He sees Barrett being just as good as those All-Stars — if not better.
“I think RJ will be a terrific pro and I say that just based on the experience,’’ Boyle said. “Our teams have all been ranked pretty high, top one, two and three nationally. So we’re playing against the best high school players every year. We’ve had five other guys picked one, two, three in the draft. And RJ is right up there with all of them."
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