R.J. Barrett, the third overall pick in Thursday night’s NBA Draft, says he loves New York and hopes to elevate the Knicks back into championship contention.
Barrett, 19, has “been high on our board the entire season” according to GM Scott Perry.
The 6-7 wing put up 22.6 points, 7.6 rebounds and 4.3 assists last season at Duke, and adds that he can’t wait to hoop at MSG.
“He’s been high on our board the entire season,” general manager Scott Perry said. “I think we had mentioned to you guys earlier that we wanted to stay in the top three in this lottery. We felt that there were three players that showed separation, with RJ being one of them. We’re just excited that he was there.
“When we bought him in and spent time with him . . . he is an outstanding character guy, too, not just on the basketball floor. He doesn’t just have basketball character. He has off-the-floor character as well. So he’s going to be a great representative for us.”
Barrett was open about his desire to play his home games at Madison Square Garden. His father, Rowan, played at St. John’s and his mother, Kesha, ran track there after growing up in Brooklyn. He spoke of his late grandfather being a huge Knicks fan and watching games with him as a child.
“That was crazy,” Barrett said. “That was one of the reasons why I was crying, because we used to watch the Knicks growing up and he would always tell me I was going to be a Knick. I’m sad he can’t be here to see it. But I’m just very happy, man.
“ . . . What do I say? I’m so overwhelmed, humbled and just honored and very thankful that the Knicks took the chance with me, that they believed in me. I’m so happy to be a Knick, and I can’t wait to play in Madison Square Garden.”