Through all the trials and tribulations of the New York Knicks’ 2021-22 season — the injuries, the unexpected demise of Julius Randle, the experience with Kemba Walker, et al. – RJ Barrett’s growth throughout the campaign served as a shining beacon in the storm.
The former No. 3 overall overcame a preseason shooting dip, a battle with COVID-19, several losing streaks and the usual media circus to show steady growth throughout the campaign. By the end of the year, he had achieved a career-best scoring average of 20 points per contest.
And while its efficiency waned somewhat, it also displayed some of the qualities one would expect from a potential franchise cornerstone. Said Heat star Jimmy Butler after Barrett lit up Miami with 46 points in February: “I don’t think anyone’s surprised or should be surprised … he’s going to be the face of the Knicks.”
According to an announcement by Canada Basketball on Tuesday, Barrett will have the opportunity to showcase his ever-expanding game on an international stage again this summer.
Canada’s senior men’s national team just announced their core summer roster ahead of the third qualifying window of the FIBA Basketball World Cup. The 14 ballers who are joining the roster aren’t just signing up for a few off-season games, however – each player has agreed to a three-year commitment that runs until the Paris Olympics in 2024.
“The true value of chemistry, camaraderie and continuity cannot be overlooked when building a team,” said head coach Nick Nurse. “By assembling a dedicated core group of players and staff to represent Canada for the years to come, we have every confidence that this program will ensure continued success both now and in the future.”
Barrett on the national team includes Nickeil Alexander-Walker, Khem Birch, Oshae Brissett, Dillon Brooks, Lu Dort, Zach Edey, Melvin Ejim, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Cory Joseph, Jamal Murray, Kelly Olynyk, Kevin Pangos and Dwight Powell.
If any of the above players are not available, they are still expected to attend the training camp for a period of three years.
The 2023 FIBA World Championship is scheduled to take place in the Philippines, Japan and Indonesia from August 25 to September 10 next year.
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The Knicks star, who was born in Toronto and began his prep career in Mississauga, Ontario, is no stranger to Canada’s national basketball program.
He was the youngest player in the country’s silver-winning participation in the 2015 FIBA Americas U16 Championship. He also appeared for Team Canada in U17 and U19 competitions, leading the way to a World Cup title in the latter in 2017 . Barrett made his senior debut the following year and has been a feature on the national program ever since.
Additionally, his father—former St. John’s star Rowan Barrett—currently serves as Canada Basketball’s GM/Executive VP for the Senior Men’s Program.