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RJ Barrett says ‘I’m built for this’ when asked about playing in New York

Knicks, R.J. Barrett

Duke standout RJ Barrett joined the crew of ESPN’s First Take for a wide-ranging interview on Thursday morning. During their discussion, Stephen A. Smith asked Barrett about the possibility of playing for the New York Knicks, who have landed the No. 3 overall pick in this year’s draft.

“They’ve got you projected as the No. 3 overall pick in the upcoming NBA Draft,” Smith said to RJ Barrett during Thursday morning’s airing of First Take. “That pick belongs to the New York Knicks. Are you ready to handle New York City? Do you understand the expectations for a No. 3 overall pick?”

“Hey, if it happens, I’m definitely ready,” Barrett calmly replied. “The biggest thing is my confidence. I’m built for this. I’ve been workin’ since I was young, so I’m not really worried.”

A 6-7 forward, Barrett is a player who would bring instant production to any rotation. Though he was often out-shined by his Duke teammate, Zion Williamson, Barrett still managed to post a solid rookie season. In 38 appearances with the Blue Devils (all starts), the 18-year-old racked up averages of 22.6 points on 45.4 percent shooting from the field (30.8 percent from beyond the arc), 7.6 rebounds, 4.3 assists and just under one steal (0.9) in 35.3 minutes per outing.

Barrett earned several distinguished awards for his outstanding play with the Blue Devils, including a consensus first-team All-American nod and a First Team All-ACC selection.

“He has — besides ability — he really has the passion to compete,” Duke head coach Mike Krzyzewski said of Barrett last year. “There’s a passion to play, and there’s a passion to compete, I think the passion to compete is higher, and this young man has it.

Most mock drafts have Barrett going somewhere in the top five, as Smith noted. Whether or not he’ll be there for the Knicks remains to be seen.