RJ Barrett’s former coach details the 19-year-old’s desire to come to Madison Square Garden and bring winning back to the New York Knicks.
Zion Williamson and Ja Morant are comfortably slotted in at No. 1 and No. 2, respectively. That would mean that RJ Barrett is the presumptive choice for the New York Knicks at No. 3.
Although there is some chatter about the Knicks considering a trade out of the No. 3 slot, Barrett is a tough prospect to pass up. He is an athletic wing that excels at creating his own shot. He has a ridiculously high ceiling and a former coach believes New York is the perfect fit for Barrett.
Dwayne Washington, the director of UPLAYCanada where he trained and coached Barrett for years, spoke with Ian Begley of SNY about Barrett’s potential in New York. He believes that Barrett can help bring a winning culture back to Madison Square Garden.
“If he goes to New York, the only thing he will be defined by is winning. It’s not about, ‘I’m here to get a check’ or ‘I made it to the league — look momma, I made it.’ His goals are so high and they all revolve around winning,” Washington said.. “I can’t say that for everybody. But he’s different.”
Washington’s comments shed light on what type of player Barrett can be in New York. He paints a picture of a teenager who is hellbent on winning at the highest level.
For many, the bright lights can become a fatal distraction. For others, the pressure of the big city can doom careers. However, Barrett doesn’t sound like the type of kid who will fall victim to the bright lights and big city.
“RJ can take criticism. He’s been in the media his whole life. He answers tough questions. He knew the spotlight would be on him (throughout high school and college),” Washington said. “And he wants New York! You’ve got guys running from New York. You’ve got guys that don’t want that heat; they don’t want the fire. They don’t want the high expectations.
“You’ve got (players) who want to go to small towns so they can hide, make their money, cost of living is low and they’re good. No, not RJ. He wants to be in New York.”
New Yorkers embraced the 90s Knicks, in part for their rough-and-tumble style of play, but mostly because they were consistently in the playoffs. The Knicks team that can bring substantial winning back to the Garden will be revered in New York for the rest of time. It sounds like Barrett wants to be the guy who does it.