Zion Williamson has been an internet sensation over the last several years in high school. Jay Williams from ESPN calls him “the Vince Carter of this generation”. After numerous awe-inspiring dunks and high-flying blocks, social media took to spreading the word about this humble star from Spartanburg Day School in South Carolina.
Williamson received 28 offers from schools around the country who hoped to bring such raw talent and athleticism to their program. The consensus top 3 recruit only visited four of the universities that made him offers, however, with trips to Duke, Kansas, Kentucky, and UCLA.
But it was the hometown team, the University of South Carolina, that really hoped to land the local phenom. During a game against Kentucky this past season, Gamecock fans were heard chanting “We want Zion” late in their 76-68 upset of the no. 18 Wildcats. It was a valiant effort by the local faithful, but to no avail. On January 20, Williamson broke the hearts of all USC fans tuning in, donning the royal blue and announcing his commitment to Duke University.
— Zion Williamson (@ZionW32) January 27, 2018
This commitment locked in the top 3 recruits overall coming out of high school for Duke next season, along with RJ Barrett and Cam Reddish. These commits gave the Blue Devils the top recruiting class in the nation yet again.
But we’re talking about Zion here. Will he produce? Will he stay healthy? Can Coach K use him (and the others) effectively and get him to buy into a team approach on the defensive end? There are certainly many questions to be answered and lots of attention following him into his first, and most likely only, collegiate season. You can thank YouTube and Instagram for that.
Zion played four years during his high school career at the varsity level, posting some impressive stats in his 100 games played. His career averages were 32 ppg and 11.3 rpg. The high point totals aren’t surprising though. He boasted an overall 72 FG% throughout, mainly due to all the highlight reel dunks seen online. It also might have been helpful that Zion is 6’6″ and weighs 272 pounds. Yeah….NO ONE is stopping that in high school.
So what about at Duke? There are many things that come to mind when you think of Duke basketball. A couple main areas are three-point shooting and defense. Mike Kyrzyzewski has had some prolific shooters and coached some teams into suffocating defenses in his tenure with the Blue Devils. For Zion, it remains to be seen whether he will produce in these disciplines. He wasn’t a feared long distance shooter in high school, not taking many 3-point shots and only shooting at 25%. He did shows signs as a defender however, averaging 3 steals and 2.9 blocks per game in his career. His athleticism and sheer leaping ability allows him to get up very quickly by the rim to swat away shot attempts. It will be how he fits into a system that will determine his success on the defensive end in college.
Duke has a tremendous athlete on their hands. He put up big numbers in high school, sometimes against much smaller, subpar competition. He will have millions of eyes on him due to his already established social media stardom. The opinions have gone both ways as to whether he will be a big factor on such a loaded roster. But if he focuses, works hard, and buys into Coach K’s mentality – Duke could make a serious run at a sixth national championship.