Zion Williamson has been viewed as the presumptive No. 1 overall pick since his breakout performance against Kentucky. But despite his incredible potential and even more incredible marketability, one coach thinks that one of Zion’s Duke teammates deserves to be drafted ahead of him.
Per the New York Post, RJ Barrett’s high school coach, Kevin Boyle, believes that Barrett has a “great case” to be the top pick ahead of Zion. Boyle explained that Barrett deserved more attention during his freshman year at Duke.
“You see how he handled himself this year,’’ Boyle said Monday in an appearance on “MSG 150”. “You have an incredible player in Zion Williamson. And obviously they’re both great players. You can make a great argument for both to be No. 1 in the draft. And Zion deserved all the attention he got. But RJ probably deserved more attention than he received. And he was never jealous. He was happy for his friend. Happy for the team. And I think that’s a rare quality in today’s kids.”
“I think RJ will be a terrific pro and I say that just based on the experience,’’ Boyle said. “Our teams have all been ranked pretty high, top one, two and three nationally. So we’re playing against the best high school players every year. We’ve had five other guys picked one, two, three in the draft. And RJ is right up there with all of them.”
Boyle may be a tad biased in his assessment, but Barrett does have a very compelling case.
Barrett and Zion were nearly even on points per game. Zion had more rebounds per game, but Barrett had more assists per game.
Additionally, Barrett had six games with 30 points or more, nine games with 10 rebounds or more, and two games with 10 assists or more. He also had a triple-double against NC State with 23 points, 11 rebounds, and 10 assists.
R.J. Barrett's high school coach believes he has a case to be the No. 1 pick in the draft over Zion WIlliamson. https://t.co/NiDsXVxiBC
— USA TODAY NBA (@usatodaynba) May 23, 2019
The New Orleans Pelicans hold the No. 1 overall pick in the draft, and are widely expected to take Zion with the pick. They’ve already sold many season tickets largely based on that expectation.
Meanwhile, the Memphis Grizzlies are equally expected to take Murray State star Ja Morant with the No. 2 overall pick. Such a scenario would leave the New York Knicks and their No. 3 overall as the earliest Barrett is likely to be drafted.
It seems unlikely that Boyle’s wish will come true, but Barrett can still control whether he becomes a better pro than Zion.