Duke freshman Zion Williamson is the most exciting player in college basketball
Duke freshman Zion Williamson has been a YouTube sensation since his high school days at Spartanburg Day School in Spartanburg, S.C. Now the 18-year-old is taking college basketball by storm with his unique blend of eye-popping size and highlight-reel skills. Already one of the internet’s favorite dunkers, Williamson is showing off his complete game for the No. 1-ranked Duke Blue Devils. Here are a few fast facts to know about the most exciting player in college basketball:
— ESPN (@espn) July 31, 2018
1. Weighs in at 6’7” and 285 pounds
Named after Mount Zion in Jerusalem, Williamson is certainly a mountain of a man. Listed at 6’7” and 285 pounds, Zion would be the second-heaviest player in the NBA — behind only 7’3”, 290-pound L.A. Clippers center Boban Marjanovic. But let’s just say Zion is a little lighter on his feet than the great Boban.
2. Can dunk from the free-throw line
Dr. J, Michael Jordan, Vince Carter and Brent Barry have all won dunk contests by taking off from (or at least near) the free-throw line. Zion showed off his ability to take flight at 285 pounds this summer, making a foul-line dunk look as easy as a free throw itself.
3. Highest max vertical leap in Duke history
Duke wasn’t ready for Zion’s max vertical leap testing. The legendary leaper jumped too high to have his number recorded. He outjumped a vertical leap test… at Duke. After adjusting the bar’s height by adding weights under its base, Zion eventually topped out at a Duke record 40-inch max vertical leap. But who knows what he would’ve posted had the Blue Devils been properly prepared for Zion’s first jump.
ððIf you ain't been a part of it, at least you got to witnessðð pic.twitter.com/Uo7gwoHQTK— Zion Williamson (@ZionW32) January 30, 2017
4. So famous in high school that Drake wore his jersey
“It’s amazing that Drake even knows my name,” Zion said. “When your favorite rapper wears your jersey, it’s an indescribable feeling.” Drake has been known to wear the high school jerseys of NBA players, but it says something about a player's status when his jersey is considered cool by tastemakers when he's still in HIGH SCHOOL.
5. Was on SLAM magazine cover at 16 years old
SLAM magazine famously asked "Are you ready for Zion Williamson?" on the cover of its June 2017 issue. The high-profile photo shoot and national feature story were the first of many for Zion, whose meteoric rise has only just begun.
6. Has been compared to LeBron James
If it's not fair to compare LeBron James to Michael Jordan, then it's really unfair comparing Zion to LeBron. But that hasn't stopped rabid fans — including many Cleveland Cavaliers faithful with a Bron-sized hole in their hearts — from mentioning Zion's name in the same breath as LeBron. Other Williamson comparisons include Charles Barkley, Larry Johnson and Draymond Green. But really, Zion is one of a kind.
7. Offered football scholarship by LSU
According to former LSU tight ends coach and current Texas State offensive line coach Eric Mateos, LSU offered Williamson a football scholarship in 2016 under then-interim coach Ed Orgeron. “I thought, hell, why not? He’s probably the best damn tight end to ever live,” Mateos told ESPN. “Coach O said go recruit the best athletes in the country and that’s what I tried to do.”
8. Headlines best freshman class in Duke history
Although Coach K once looked down on the one-and-done era, the five-time NCAA champ is embracing the trend these days. Duke roped in the consensus top three players in this year's freshman class (R.J. Barrett, Cam Reddish and Zion) as well as the top-ranked point guard in Tre Jones, brother of former 2015 Duke national champ and NBA baller Tyus Jones. After a fast start to the season, several 2019 NBA mock drafts have Duke sweeping the top-3 picks. Time will tell.
9. Comes from an athletic family
Zion was born in Salisbury, N.C., as the son of Lateef Williamson and Sharonda Sampson. Zion's father was a defensive line commit to NC State before attending Livingstone College, where he met Zion's mother, a track star at the school. After Zion's parents divorced, his mother married former Clemson basketball player Lee Anderson, who was instrumental in developing Zion's skills on the court.
10. Name mentioned in FBI’s NCAA recruiting investigation
Zion's name has been pulled into the FBI's ongoing college basketball corruption case when his stepfather was caught on wiretap implying that payment, housing and a job were necessary for Kansas to land the prized recruit. But neither Coach K nor Zion seem worried about any eligibility issues. "Honestly, I've paid no attention to it," Zion told ESPN. "You only get one chance at the college experience and I want to enjoy it."