R.J. Barrett didn’t disappoint in his third and final showing on Duke University’s exhibition tour of Canada.
The 18-year-old from Mississauga had 23 points and 11 assists in the Blue Devils’ 103-58 dismantling of McGill University on Sunday.
Zion Williamson shouldered the scoring load for Duke, after Barrett led the way in the first two games, putting up a game-high 36 points along with 13 rebounds.
Alex Paquin was the only McGill player in double figures with 29 points.
Duke head coach Mike Krzyzewski said the Redmen came out like they “thought they were going to win,” but their skill deficit was too much to overcome as Barrett and Williamson were a “cut above everyone who’s on the court.”
“We obviously have more talent, but we’re young. R.J. and Zion are 18. Alex Paquin is 24, he’s really good and he’s a man. That’s one of the things when we get to NCAA play, we have to beat teams that have juniors, seniors, or even graduate transfers. So that balances sometimes the talent aspect,” Krzyzewski said.
“Our guys didn’t fall into that trap, I thought they shared the ball. R.J. had 10 assists. They share it. The first half, we really had to play well. In the second half, we pulled away. I thought we played team ball throughout and really kept up our defence.”
Barrett said McGill was trying to shut him down offensively, so he decided to focus on distributing the ball.
“It’s just the ability to read the game and they were trying to take away from me scoring,” he said.
“I was playing against one of my former coaches who knows what I do, so he was trying to limit me from scoring, which left my teammates wide open and I was able to find them today,” he added, referring to McGill head coach David DeAveiro, who coached Barrett for two years with the Canadian national cadet team.
Krzyzewski said that it was Barrett’s well-rounded game and good attitude that made him such an appealing prospect, and these traits have become even more apparent since he’s joined Duke.
“He’s great in all aspects. When we recruit a kid, we look for talent, a good student and character. He’s off the charts in all three,” he said.
“He comes from a family that has amazing character. He’s represented your country at different every level and he’s done that with class, dignity and talent. He’s way ahead. I’ve found him to be more of a competitor. He does not like to lose. He’s an outstanding defender and he can lock you up. He’s a leader and a great kid to be around. I love him. I loved him before this trip, but now that we’ve had nine practices and three games, we know our guys a little bit better. He’s a stud in every way.”