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5-Star SF Prospect RJ Barrett Commits to Duke over Kentucky, Oregon

Scott Polacek@@ScottPolacekFeatured ColumnistNovember 10, 2017

Montverde Academy's Rowan Barrett #5 shoots a free throw against Bishop Montgomery during a high school basketball game at the 2017 Hoophall Classic on Monday, January 16, 2017, in Springfield, MA. (AP Photo/Gregory Payan)
Gregory Payan/Associated Press

The Duke Blue Devils added a major piece to their 2018 recruiting class Friday in the form of small forward RJ Barrett.

TSN @TSN_Sports

Canadian basketball star @RjBarrett6 announces he will attend Duke University next year. https://t.co/taN0JNW3NA

According to ESPN Stats & Info, Barrett's commitment represents the continution of a recruiting hot streak for the Blue Devils:

ESPN Stats & Info @ESPNStatsInfo

R.J. Barrett, the top player in the 2018 ESPN 100, commits to Duke. This is the 3rd straight year, and 4th time in 5 years, that the No. 1 player has chosen the Blue Devils. https://t.co/kSoXpCLpAB

Barrett, who checks in at 6'6" and 180 pounds, is a 5-star prospect, per 247Sports composite rankings, and the No. 1 overall player, No. 1 small forward and No. 1 player from the state of Florida in the 2018 class.

This decision comes after the small forward tweeted on Sept. 30 he trimmed his list to three finalists in Oregon, Duke and Kentucky. According to Erik Skopil of 247Sports, Barrett also considered Arizona and Michigan before cutting the list and elected to eliminate the Wildcats after the FBI's probe into college basketball recruiting.

Josh Weinstein of the Toronto Sun noted Barrett—who reclassified to the 2018 class—is the son of former Canadian national player Rowan Barrett and the godson of Steve Nash. The younger Barrett led Canada to the FIBA U19 World Cup title as the tournament's most valuable player behind 21.6 points per game.

Jonathan Givony and Mike Schmitz of DraftExpress provided a scouting report for the wing, pointing to his versatility and ability to play through contact at the rim or in transition as a scorer. The report also said he was "not afraid of the moment" and praised him for his ability to play with confidence.

He is also a solid passer and a "capable spot shooter with time and space," but his overall potential on the defensive side stands out because of his wingspan and the athleticism that allows him to keep up with smaller ball-handlers or challenge shots from taller forwards.                          

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Given Barrett's talent and poise, as well as his tendency to impact the game in so many ways, Duke fans may only get the opportunity to enjoy him for one season. Alas, the Blue Devils have thrived with one-and-done players in the recent past and should once again challenge for an ACC title and Final Four berth largely because of Barrett's presence even as a freshman.

If he lives up to his potential, Barrett will be a nightmare matchup for ACC opponents before joining the NBA ranks as a two-way playmaker who can take over a game on any given night.

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