Duke freshman R.J. Barrett has been named the National Player of the Year by USA Today, which has unveiled its annual college basketball award winners. Barrett and Zion Williamson were tapped first-team All-America by the publication.
Barrett joins Williamson as a Player of the Year winner, as Williamson earned the honor last week from Sporting News. The pair joined Kansas’ Dedric Lawson, Gonzaga’s Rui Hachimura and Marquette’s Markus Howard as first-team All-America selections.
Barrett (22.9) and Williamson (22.1) are the ACC’s two leading scorers, and looking to become the first freshman teammate duo in NCAA history to each average 20.0+ points for a season. They have helped lead No. 1 Duke (29-5) to an ACC Championship and to the overall No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament.
The native of Mississauga, Ontario, Barrett is the only major conference player to score 13+ points in every game this season. He leads the ACC in scoring, is seventh in assists (4.12), 10th in rebounding (7.5) and 10th in field goal percentage (.457). In games against AP top 10 teams this season, Barrett’s scoring average of 25.5 points leads the nation. He has set both the Duke and ACC freshman scoring record with his 779 points, and he is tied for seventh on Duke’s overall single-season scoring list, needing 13 more points to crack the top five.
Williamson bounced back from missing the final five regular season games with a knee injury to tear through the ACC Tournament and claim MVP honors. He averaged 27.0 points and 10.0 rebounds in leading Duke to the title, becoming the first freshman in ACC history to be the Player of the Year and Tournament MVP in the same season. Williamson is the nation’s only player averaging 20.0+ and shooting .650+ from the field. The Spartanburg, S.C., native leads the ACC in steals (2.2) and field goal percentage (.693), is second in scoring (22.1) and third in rebounds (8.9).
Barrett and Williamson have already earned first-team All-America honors from the USBWA and Sporting News, while Williamson has been named the Sporting News Player of the Year. The duo are finalists for the Oscar Robertson National Player of the Year Award, the Wayman Tisdale Freshman of the Year and the John R. Wooden Player of the Year Award.
The Blue Devils open the NCAA Tournament Friday in Columbia, S.C. versus NC Central or North Dakota State. Game time is set for 7:10 p.m. ET on CBS.