ATLANTA – Montverde Academy’s (Fla.) R.J. Barrett is a well-mannered 17-year-old who stays after games and flashes big grins with the horde of fans who wait in line to snap pictures with the No. 1 high school basketball player in the country.
Still, despite Barrett being the resident nice guy he’s noticed that as of November 10 his reception, at least in the pregame, has become a bit chillier.
“I notice those boos now,” Barrett said with a laugh.
Such is the life of a high school player who’s signed on to join the most hated program in sports.
Barrett picked Duke over Oregon and Kentucky.
“I knew all about how people didn’t like Duke and everything like that,” said Barrett, who dropped a game-high 33 points in Montverde’s 101-55 win over Westside-Macon (Ga.) Saturday at the Holiday Hoopsgiving. “But now that I’m a part of the Duke family I guess I’m getting that hate too. But I love that stuff.”
And he’s used to it on.
On some level, Montverde has earned the success-hating fans after capturing 3 of the last 5 DICK’s Nationals titles.
“We get everyone’s best shot here at Montverde,” Barrett said. “I’m used to that. That kind of stuff drives me so much more. It’s like a pressure to perform. It keeps me sharp. That’s one of the things I loved about Duke.”
After the game he transforms back from ruthless competitor to boy next door.
“It’s all in fun and it’s part of the game,” Barrett said. “The same people are coming up to me after the game so it’s fine. I wouldn’t have it any other way.”
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