- Duke freshman phenom Zion Williamson has taken the basketball world by storm with his dominant play and Earth-shaking dunks, but one of his classmates has arguably had an even more impressive start to his college career.
- R.J. Barrett – the No. 1 recruit in the Class of 2018 and the sole freshman named to the AP preseason All-America team – leads the Blue Devils and ranks second in the ACC with 22.8 points per game through his first five games in the NCAA.
- The Canadian sensation took a page out of his teammate’s book and put on a dunk show in Duke’s 78-72 Maui Invitational win over No. 8 Auburn.
Zion Williamson has been dominant for Mike Krzyzewski and his Duke Blue Devils this season, but one of his fellow freshmen has arguably had an even more impressive start to his college career.
Canadian sensation R.J. Barrett – who was the top-ranked recruit in the Class of 2018 and the sole freshman named to the AP preseason All-America team – leads the Blue Devils and ranks second in the entire ACC with an average of 22.8 points per game. Barrett has scored more points through his first five games in college than any freshman in the history of Duke’s program.
Barrett reminded everyone why he was a higher-ranked recruit than his superstar teammates at the Maui Invitational semifinals Tuesday, putting on a clinic in Duke’s 78-72 win against the No. 8 Auburn Tigers. He scored 18 points, had 9 rebounds, and added a host of highlight-reel dunks.
His nine first-half points helped the Blue Devils to amass a whopping 17-point lead early in the contest, but Auburn ultimately cut the deficit down to eight heading into the locker room.
Still, the Blue Devils were feeling pretty good about themselves when they headed back out onto the court, and Barrett was ready to put on a show right from the start of the second half.
Duke’s Marques Bolden notched one of his seven blocks on the evening to force a turnover, and the Blue Devils stormed to the other end on the breakaway. Barrett ran the floor and found himself wide open to rise up for an emphatic alley-oop slam assisted by none other than Williamson himself.
#8 Auburn played tough, but it wasn’t enough as #1 Duke hangs on 78-72. First game Duke hasn’t won by 20+ points.
RJ Barrett: 18 PTS, 9 REB, 2 AST
— CollegeBB News (@CollegeBBNCAA) November 21, 2018
Two minutes later, Barrett remembered Williamson’s frenzy-inducing in-game windmill slam from Monday night and decided to try it for himself.
— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) November 21, 2018
Check out the close-up.
Throw it down @RjBarrett6 ????
The freshman scored 18 and is averaging 22.8 PPG on the year. pic.twitter.com/CCkk43suZV
— Duke Men’s Basketball (@DukeMBB) November 21, 2018
Barrett’s showmanship caught the attention of some big basketball names and had others wondering whether this Duke team could hang with the worst in the NBA.
Man duke really out here windmilling against dudes this team different
— kuz (@kylekuzma) November 21, 2018
— Get Up (@GetUpESPN) November 21, 2018
The Blue Devils will take on No. 3 Gonzaga in their third top-10 matchup of the season, but with so many different stars to fall back on, Duke could just cruise to a marquee matchup blowout as they did against the then-No. 2 Kentucky Wildcats to start the year.