The 2019 NBA Draft will be here before you know it, and there are plenty of storylines revolving around the various prospects that will see their lives change on draft night in June.
Of course, after the New Orleans Pelicans won the lottery, each and every NBA franchise pretty much knew what that meant: Zion Williamson is heading to The Big Easy. However, though Williamson is considered the only stunning, franchise-altering prospect in this draft, there are still plenty more options beyond the Duke Blue Devil superstar – including one of his Duke teammates.
R.J. Barrett actually came into the 2018-19 NCAA men’s basketball season as the consensus No. 1 overall prospect in his draft class, but was quickly overshadowed by the all-around brilliance of Williamson. He’s still widely regarded as being in a secondary, non-Zion tier in this class alongside ball-handling wizard and athletic marvel Ja Morant out of Murray State.
Barrett, for his part, played extremely well when he was pretty much running the offense on his own when when playing without his superstar teammate. His assists skyrocketed, and he helped keep the Blue Devils afloat while Williamson missed time due to blowing out his shoe in memorable fashion.
Barrett’s former high school coach at Montverde Academy, Kevin Boyle, is so fond of his former pupil’s game that he even believes R.J. has a good case for the No. 1 pick.
“You see how he handled himself this year,’’ Boyle said Monday in an appearance on MSG 150, per Marc Berman of 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.”
Certainly, Barrett and Williamson got along swimmingly during their lone college season, which shows a maturity for both players at only 18 years of age.