Several times, University at Albany men’s basketball rising redshirt sophomore Cameron Healy teamed with RJ Barrett during their high school careers.
With a laugh, Healy remembered what that meant for his spot in the team’s playing rotation.
“That would bump me down,” Healy said.
Like Barrett, who the New York Knicks selected last week with the No. 3 overall pick in the NBA draft, Healy attended high school at Florida’s Montverde Academy. The pair of players overlapped at Montverde Academy for a couple years, but generally played on separate teams at the powerhouse private school. Healy — who grew up in Australia — played on the school’s post-graduate team, while Barrett — a native of Canada — primarily suited up for the school’s varsity team that counts current NBA stars such as Joel Embiid, D’Angelo Russell and Ben Simmons among its alumni.
The 21-year-old Healy said he monitored last week’s NBA draft to see where his friend would end up, even if he never had much doubt where the 19-year-old Barrett would get taken.
“We still talk, but I never asked him about [the draft],” Healy said. “I just always assumed it would be the Knicks.”
Barrett starred at Duke University last season alongside Zion Williamson, this year’s No. 1 pick in the NBA draft. The New Orleans Pelicans selected Williamson.
Before heading to Duke, Barrett first fully announced his presence as a future star when he led Canada to a gold medal at the 2017 FIBA U19 Men’s Basketball World Cup in Egypt. In that tournament, Barrett scored 38 points and grabbed 13 rebounds in Canada’s semifinal win against a United States squad that featured Shenendehowa graduate Kevin Huerter, who is in between his rookie and sophomore seasons with the Atlanta Hawks. Barrett’s Canada squad also included Prince Oduro, a big man who played one season at Siena College before transferring to Mississippi State.
Healy said Barrett was confident, but humble, as a young player at Montverde Academy.
“He was always just like another one of the guys, except he was so young,” Healy said of Barrett, who spent three seasons at Montverde Academy. “But we all knew [right away] he was one of the best players in his class.”
Barrett was one of the top players in college basketball last season, garnering All-American honors and a National Player of the Year award from USA Today.
Meanwhile, for UAlbany, Healy served as one of the America East’s top rookies. Healy averaged a team-high 16.0 points per game, plus 3.8 rebounds and 2.4 assists.
Despite the success he had during his season, Healy said he thought he returned “out of shape” to UAlbany for last summer’s offseason workouts. This offseason, Healy is spending several weeks in Los Angeles to work out with a trainer in advance of heading back to UAlbany in early July for the start of the Great Danes’ summer workouts.
“I wanted to do something different this summer to get ready,” Healy said.