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NBC Sports: Barrett Will Be Player Of The Year

Pretty audacious even for a truly great freshman.

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NCAA Basketball: Preseason-Duke at Ryerson University
Forwards Zion Williamson (1, right) and R.J. Barrett (5) talk on the bench after being substituted in a pre-season exhibition game against Ryerson University at Paramount Fine Foods Centre. 
Dan Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports

The folks over at NBC Sports have their All-America team up.

NBC has Duke’s RJ Barrett on the first team and as Player of the Year. Here’s the relevant comments about Barrett:

“He is a bonafide star, a player that has proven the ability to be a game-changer against elite competition despite the fact that he is just a freshman. Remember, two summers ago, Barrett — just three weeks after his 17th birthday — was the star of Canada’s U19 national team that won the FIBA U19 World Cup. In a game against Team USA in the semifinals of the event, Barrett had 38 points, 13 boards and six assists. That team featured first round picks Kevin Huerter and Josh Okogie as well as current All-Americans Carsen Edwards and P.J. Washington, among others.”

Zion Williamson is on the second team. Here are the comments about him:

“Williamson is an absolute freak of nature athletically. We all already knew that. The reason Williamson is slotted this high on our All-American teams is that he is far more skilled than he gets credit for. While Duke was in Canada playing their exhibition games in August, Williamson was unstoppable. I am much more bullish on him now than I was at the start of the summer.”

That’s certainly true. We wondered if playing in a lower level of high school competition would mean it would be tough to adjust to this level. The summer wasn’t entirely a fair test but it was enough to show us that his skills were far, far better than advertised. He’s not going to be just a leaper. Like Barrett, he’s a real basketball player.

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