RJ Barrett Eyes Long Term Success with New York Knicks

RJ Barrett New York Knicks

RJ Barrett has enjoyed success at every level of basketball he’s competed in since he was a kid. That’s of course until this year as a member of the New York Knicks.

Just over a third of the way through his first NBA season, Barrett’s team holds one of the worst records in the league. Given the Knicks’ poor performance on the court, it wasn’t much of a surprise when head coach David Fizdale was let go on December 6th.

RJ Barrett Hopes to be a Key Part of the New York Knicks’ Future Success

RJ Barrett Holding his Own As a Rookie

Despite the Knicks’ on-court woes, so far in his rookie season, Barrett is putting up respectable numbers as he’s averaging over 14 points per game and with more than five rebounds per game.

The 6’6″ Barrett plays the shooting guard and small forward positions for the Knicks. While he’s had some inconsistent performances, there have been times when the 19-year-old has shown glimpses of brilliance.

In his NBA debut, he shot 9 of 13 from the field for 21 points and added five rebounds.

And just on Tuesday, he poured in a career-high of 27 points and led the Knicks to a victory over the Atlanta Hawks.

Playing at Madison Square Garden is an Experience Like No Other

Barrett was quick to point out on draft night that playing in New York has a special place in his heart – and he wants to make the most of the opportunity.

“My parents met here. My mom grew up here. I have family here. So it’s very exciting,” he said after being drafted third overall by the Knicks back in June.

The former Duke standout adds that playing in front of the New York fans at Madison Square Garden is an experience like no other.

“I was fortunate enough to play there once this year with Duke and that’s one of the craziest environments I’ve ever been in. I’m a player that plays with a lot of passion, competitiveness, and excitement – so to be able to go into a whole arena that has such great a fan base like that is going to make the game so much more fun and it’s going to be great.”

Inspired by his Father Rowan Barrett

Looking back, Barrett says he got his inspiration to play the game from his dad, Rowan Barrett.

Barrett remembers watching his dad play in Italy during his childhood years.

“Italy was a lot of fun. I remember eating a lot of pasta. The arena was right across the street from where I lived so it was great. I watched my dad go to practice and go to the game every day as a kid,” Barrett recalled.

“Watching him is where I got my passion,” added the 19-year-old rookie.

“So he’s definitely been one of biggest influences in my life.”

A Highly Touted Prospect

Barrett starred at St. Marcellinus Secondary in Mississauga, Ont. before transferring to Florida to attend Montverde Academy. He would lead Montverde to the national title. He would also add the Naismith Prep Player of the Year and Gatorade National Player of the Year.

Another notable accomplishment for Barrett came at the 2017 FIBA Under 19 basketball world cup when he led the Canadian squad to gold and was subsequently named tournament MVP.

Strong Connection to Steve Nash

The elder Barrett played four years at St. John’s University and would go on to play on the Canadian Olympic basketball team where he starred alongside two time NBA MVP Steve Nash.

Barrett was thankful for the support he’s received from Nash – who is also his Godfather.

“He’s a Hall of Famer and you wouldn’t even know it if you spoke to him. He’s the nicest guy and the most helpful guy ever. Nash’s been really great for me during this draft process,” said Barrett on draft night about Nash.

“He’s checked in on me every day to see if I’m good and how I’m feeling and gives me advice so I’m very thankful for him.”

A Dream Come True Playing with the New York Knicks

After hearing his name called by the New York Knicks, Barrett was visibly very emotional as he shared a hug with his dad.

Barrett explained that playing for the Knicks had been something he’s been dreaming about since his early childhood.

“That was one of the reasons why I was crying because we always used to watch the Knicks growing up with my grandpa and he’d always tell me that I was going to be a Knick,” he noted.

“It’s sad that he can’t be here to see it but I’m just very happy.”

Hearing his son’s name called by the New York Knicks was an emotional moment for the entire Barrett family.

“When they called him it was just elation to start with. Just to think back to all those times driving to the gym in the morning,” said his father Rowan Barrett.

“To see him crying himself to sleep after being away from his family for the first time at 15 and see him continue to work and grind, tough it out and compete. We are so proud of him,” he added about his son.

Prepared for a Long Journey To Success

The 19-year-old rookie will have to continue to grind and work hard if he hopes to one day enjoy success with the Knicks’ franchise. While the team has gone 3-3 since the firing of Fizdale, it’s still very much understood the Knicks are in full rebuild mode and there’s a lot of tunnel before any light is going to appear.

But if the 19-year-old Barrett can continue to improve and show greater consistency in his game, he has the talent to become one of the key bright spots on the team’s long term journey to success.

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