The great Coach K has broken his silence on RJ Barrett’s potential arrival with the Knicks.
“RJ will flourish here in New York,’’ Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski said on his SiriusXM show that he hosted Tuesday in New York. “He wants to be here. He is so mature. He just turned 19 last Friday, but he’s been a part of the Canadian basketball program since [he was] a little guy, always played up.”
Earlier this month, Jon Scheyer, one of Krzyzewski’s assistants staged a conference call to praise Duke’s three lottery picks — Zion Williamson, Cam Reddish and Barrett, who is the expected choice of the Knicks at No. 3 if the Grizzlies pass on him with the second pick.
Barrett, the 6-foot-7 swingman, has been given plaudits for handling the rise of Williamson with class. Barrett was considered the No. 1 pick in the draft entering the college season before Williamson stole the spotlight.
In fact, they are best friends. Barrett wouldn’t mind if New Orleans somehow got the second pick in the draft from Memphis.
“What says a lot about him is his relationship with Zion,’’ Krzyzewski said. “The two of them could [have been] very jealous of one another, envious. [Instead] they became brothers. Literally. They love one another.”
Versatility is Barrett’s shining attribute, his college coach said, and sees “star” potential. Scouts believe he can play point guard, shooting guard or small forward.
“This kid is a multi-dimensional player,’’ Krzyzewski said. “He would start right away. He has the potential to be a double-double guy. He’s a great defensive rebounder, and if he gets the defensive rebound he can push, and he can play one through four. Because he can pass, too. As he grows, there’ll be times in this kid’s career where the triple-double will happen more than once. He’s a star. There’s no question. Beautiful, beautiful kid.”
The Knicks will get in a last-minute workout Wednesday with talented Vanderbilt point guard Darius Garland, who missed most of the season with a meniscus tear in his knee.
DraftExpress touted Garland as a “serious consideration’’ for the Knicks at No. 3, but NBA sources said that was a big exaggeration.
Garland’s agent is Rich Paul, who also represents LeBron James among others. The Knicks continued to do their due diligence in draft evaluations and had very little to go on regarding Garland, who missed the draft combine and didn’t interview with teams.
Gaining intel on top-six players entering the league is never a bad thing. If there’s a whopping offer to trade back, Garland would be a very strong option, but for now the Knicks are content to stay at 3 and choose between Barrett and Ja Morant. Garland’s stock, as expected, has risen since the lottery. He used to work out at Vanderbilt with the Knicks’ John Jenkins and Luke Kornet.