GREENBURGH, N.Y. — RJ Barrett is a man who knows what he likes.
Barrett likes a challenge. He likes playing under pressure. And he loves the idea of calling Madison Square Garden his home court.
“This is the place I want to be,” the star out of Duke told reporters after working out for the Knicks at their practice facility Monday. “So I hope they draft me.”
The Knicks have the No. 3 pick in next week’s NBA Draft. Barrett is widely projected to be the No. 3 pick, after Duke teammate Zion Williamson and Murray State’s Ja Morant.
Barrett is so sold on playing in New York that he said he does not plan to work out for anyone else, including the Grizzlies, who have the No. 2 pick.
“I won’t be meeting with any other teams,” he said. “It’s this and then the draft. If that ends up and I’m still there at three, I’d love for them to take me.”
Barrett’s mother, Kesha Duhaney, grew up in New York and was a track star at St. John’s. His father, Rowan, played basketball for St. John’s in the early 1990s. RJ was born in Toronto, but spent his summers in New York visiting family. It didn’t take him long to love the city. He said he honed his game playing pickup games at various playgrounds around the city.
“I feel like I know the place well enough to call it home,” the 6-7 forward said. “My grandparents used to live in Brooklyn and I have cousins and uncles everywhere [in New York].”
Barrett said his father often has talked to him about how great it is to play at Madison Square Garden on a regular basis and he definitely sees that as a big lure. He also is attracted to being a key piece of the puzzle for a team that is rebuilding with big expectations.
“I feel like I love [the pressure],” he said. “I embrace it. I embrace New York. I’d give it my all. I’d give it everything I have.”
Barrett dealt with some pressure at Duke when he was forced to step up his game this past season after Williamson, his good friend and teammate, injured his knee in February.
“He went down and everyone had to step up,” Barrett said. “When one guy goes down, you are bound to score more. He wasn’t there, so it was a great experience.”
It seems that the one way Barrett’s dreams won’t become a reality is if the Knicks use their No. 3 pick in a package to snag a player such as Pelicans star Anthony Davis.
“I can’t control what happens,” Barrett said. “So it’s like, I would definitely be happy to play anywhere. Whatever team drafts me, I will be happy with.”
Though it sounds like a little more happy if it is the Knicks.