USA TODAY High School Sports is publishing a series called “The Class of 18,” highlighting 18 members of the Class of 2018 whom we will be watching in the coming year. The athletes were selected by the USA TODAY HSS staff.
Name: R.J. Barrett
School: Montverde Academy (Montverde, Fla.)
MORE CLASS OF ’18: See all the athlete profiles here
Good luck finding any player, in any class, from any circuit, who has a better resume over the last six months than R.J. Barrett.
First, he was named MVP of the prestigious Basketball Without Borders event during NBA All-Star Weekend in February. Then he averaged 25 points and eight rebounds a game at the DICK’s Sporting Goods High School Nationals and led Montverde (Montverde, Fla.) all the way to the title game where they eventually fell to La Lumiere (La Porte, Ind.). The Eagles finished ranked No. 7 overall in the USA Today Super 25.
After that, the 6-foot-7 wing, led the Nike EYBL, widely regarded as the country’s most competitive circuit, in scoring, averaging 28 points per game for UPlay Canada.
But perhaps his most impressive feat was leading Canada to the gold medal at the FIBA U19 World Cup, a run that included a 38-point outing in an upset win over the Team USA, which was coached by Kentucky head coach John Calipari.
“That’s something I’ll always be able to take pride in and remember,” Barrett wrote in his USA Today blog. “Playing against guys that are a few years older was a challenge, but we really locked in and focused and we were able to get it done.”
In July, Barrett reclassified from 2019 to 2018 and maintained the No. 1 spot ESPN’s 2018 rankings.
“Obviously, I was ranked No. 1 in the 2019 class and now that I’m moving up to 2018 my goal won’t change,” said Barrett, who recently released top five of Duke, Kentucky, Oregon, Michigan, and Arizona. “I still want to be the best player in the class and the only way to make that happen is through hard work. I’m just having fun, doing what I love to do.”