Duke's RJ Barrett declares for NBA Draft to fulfill childhood dream

Duke star forward RJ Barrett officially announced his intentions to declare for the 2019 NBA Draft with a heartfelt message shared on social media. 

After averaging 22.6 points with 7.6 rebounds and helping lead the Blue Devils to a 32-6 regular-season record, Barrett revealed his decision Wednesday to leave the Blue Devils after one collegiate season. 

“We had a great year. We’re ACC champs and it was amazing to play for Coach K, play for a brotherhood. It was a dream of mine to play at Duke ever since I was a young kid. It was also a dream of mine to play in the NBA and have great success there,” Barrett said in a video featuring highlights of his season.

“After discussing with my coaches and my family, I decided that I’ll be declaring for the 2019 NBA Draft. I really just wanted to thank the crazies, thank the whole Duke community for everything that you’ve given me. I’ll always be a part of the brotherhood and I hold that very near and dear to my heart.”

Barrett ended the season tied with Zion Williamson as the Blue Devils’ leading scorers and his presence on the court was consistent throughout the entire year. Many of his teammates — Williamson, Tre Jones and Cam Reddish — spent time on the bench to injuries, but Barrett remained healthy.

It didn’t take long for others to notice the 6-7 freshman as he put up 33 points in 32 minutes during Duke’s first game of the season against Kentucky, breaking the record for most points made by a freshman in his debut.

The young Canadian led Duke through the NCAA Tournament with a total of 81 points, though the Blue Devils were eliminated by Michigan State in the Elite Eight. 

Projected by many to go in the top five of June’s draft, Barrett will likely be joined by Williamson and Reddish in the coming days as Blue Devils to declare.