Just over a week ago when the college basketball recruiting world took a collective gasp after Spartanburg Day (S.C.) wing Zion Williamson reached into his bag and pulled out a Duke fitted cap live on Sportscenter, there was at least one person didn’t drop his jaw or widen his eyes at all.
Most media members perceived that Duke was in fifth place for Williamson behind Clemson, South Carolina, North Carolina and Kentucky.
When asked if he was even the least bit surprised by Williamson’s pick, Montverde Academy (Fla.) guard R.J. Barrett, a Duke signee, laughed and said, “Not at all.”
“Most people don’t know that me and Zion have been friends for a while,” said Barrett, the No. 1 overall player in the ESPN 100. “We were talking every day so I wasn’t surprised at all. Big things coming.”
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The country will get a preview of that tandem when Barrett and Williamson, who is ranked No. 2 overall, share the court for the first time ever at the McDonald’s All American Game on March 28 at Phillips Arena in Atlanta.
Williamson and Barrett will suit up for the East, while Westtown School (West Chester, Penn.) shooting guard Cam Reddish, who is ranked No. 3 overall, and Apple Valley (Minn.) point guard Tre Jones, who is ranked No. 12 overall, will team up on the West.
Jones and Reddish are also signed to Duke.
Barrett said the four have been in a group chat “for a while just building our friendship.”
“We all talk every day,” Barrett said. “Literally. We didn’t just talk about recruiting; we’re just good friends. We all know that we have what it takes to have a special team next season.”
Landing the top three players in the class alone gives Duke the best class since recruiting rankings kicked off in the early 2000s. Add in Jones, who is the No. 1 point guard in the class, and the expectations immediately catapult from high to downright unfair.
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Barrett described the inevitable pressure that will follow the foursome to Durham, N.C., as “beautiful.”
“Man just imagine that; getting the best competition from everyone on every night,” he said. “That’s the best part. We’re all so competitive and that’s the part that we’ll love the most. Zion was a big piece. That just completed it.”
Follow Jason Jordan on Twitter: @JayJayUSATODAY