Five things to know about rising Canadian basketball star R.J. Barrett


R.J. Barrett slam dunks the ball outside his home in Mississauga, Ont., on Thursday, July 20, 2017. (Nathan Denette/CP)

Canadian basketball phenom R.J. Barrett is slated to announce which college program he plans to join next year. Here are five things to know about the budding young star:


Rowan "R.J." Barrett, Jr. is a 17-year-old basketball player from Mississauga, Ont. The six-foot-six shooting guard is currently attending Montverde Academy in Florida and is viewed as one of the top potential prospects for the 2019 NBA draft.


Barrett comes from a long line of distinguished athletes. His father, Rowan Barrett Sr., is a basketball player who played on Team Canada during the 2000 Sydney Olympics. His maternal aunt, Dahlia Duhaney, ran on Jamaica’s 4×100 relay team that won gold at the 1991 world championships. The younger Barrett took on soccer, sprinting and high jump before deciding to focus on basketball at age 12. According to his mother Kesha, his love of the sport was evident even when he was dabbling in other disciplines.

"We had a toy room were we put all the other balls from different sports, and we hid the basketball, and he would run around and search for the basketball," Kesha said. "He always loved basketball."


Earlier this year Barrett led Canada to gold at the FIBA U19 World Cup in Cairo, the country’s first basketball world title at any age level. He averaged 21.6 points and 8.3 rebounds to earn MVP honours, despite being one of the tournament’s youngest players.

He’s starred countless times alongside older players. As a 14-year-old, he led Canada’s U16 team to a silver medal at the FIBA Americas tournament. He earned MVP honours as one of the youngest players in the Basketball Without Borders game last February in New Orleans, and was the fourth youngest player in the history of the Nike Hoop Summit, which pits a world high school select team against the best high schoolers in the U.S.


Barrett finds time for some other pursuits in spite of his gruelling basketball schedule. He plays piano and maintains a monthly blog for USA Today. Both he and his younger brother are fluent in French.


Barrett will graduate high school this spring and will head off to pursue basketball at the college level. He is favoured to join Anthony Bennett (2013) and Andrew Wiggins (2014) as Canadians selected No. 1 in the NBA draft.

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