Duke Comes to Canada

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Top Prospects Wow GTA Crowd

It’s not everyday that Canadian basketball fans get to see some of America’s top college basketball prospects in action. For a few days, however, that is about to change.

As they will be for the rest of the week, all eyes were on the Duke Blue Devils on Tuesday, as the longtime NCAA powerhouse practiced at Mississauga’s Paramount Fine Foods Centre, in advance of their Wednesday game against the Ryerson Rams, one of Canada’s top university basketball programs.

As usual, Duke will feature a loaded recruiting class in the upcoming season. Zion Williamson and Canadian R.J. Barrett, two of the centerpieces of the class, put on a show for the fans who came out.

Barrett admits to being amazed by his high-flying teammate, a unique blend of power (280 lbs.) and athleticism (45-inch vertical). “He’s ridiculous, I don’t understand,” Barrett said of Williamson. “He’s my roommate so we talk a lot, we’re together all the time, so it’s becoming less … naw, I can’t say that, every time he steps on the court I’m like ‘This guy is crazy.’ So I try to keep up with him.”

Barrett, meanwhile, is familiar with Ryerson head coach Roy Rana, having led Canada’s U19 team, coached by Rana, to a gold medal at the 2017 world championships.

“I know how (Rana) coaches, so I guess I have an advantage against him,” the potential 2019 No.1 pick laughed.

“What an exciting opportunity and test for our guys to play an iconic program with a legendary coach (Mike Kryzewski) which features one of the great Canadian youth players of all time,” said Rana. “It will be a special moment in our program’s evolution.”

After going up against Ryerson, Duke will play the University of Toronto on Friday, followed by McGill on Sunday.

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