Celebrities have flocked to see Duke's 18-year-old superstar, Zion Williamson — here's why he's been dubbed one of the 'most impressive' collegiate prospects ever

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  • Zion Williamson is the biggest star in college basketball and considered one of the best prospects ever.
  • Williamson became a high-school basketball star thanks to his highlight-reel dunks and incredible athleticism, and he has taken it to a new level in his freshman season at Duke.
  • At 18, Williamson has become the consensus No. 1 pick for the NBA draft this June and is poised for superstardom at the next level.

If you aren’t already familiar with Zion Williamson, now is the time.

With March Madness kicking off on Thursday, perhaps no player will receive as much attention as the 18-year-old Duke star trying to lead the Blue Devils to the national title.

Williamson’s fame has exploded in his freshman year at Duke. A high-school basketball star, Williamson has risen to a new level this year, thanks to his jaw-dropping athleticism and highlight-reel dunks. He’s considered one of the best college basketball prospects ever, and he’s the consensus No. 1 pick in the NBA draft this June.

Here’s how and why Williamson has become the brightest star in college basketball.


Zion Williamson has become the single biggest star in college basketball, solidifying himself as the No. 1 pick in the NBA draft thanks to a stellar freshman season.

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The 18-year-old, 6-foot-7, 285-pound forward has averaged 22 points, nine rebounds, and two assists per game for Duke, a No. 1 seed. ESPN’s draft expert Mike Schmitz described Williamson as “far and away the most impressive collegiate prospect I’ve ever evaluated.”

Source: ESPN


The big takeaways from Williamson’s season have been his highlight-reel dunks and jaw-dropping athleticism.


Though he has occasionally put himself in danger with his dunks.


Read more:
Duke’s Zion Williamson nearly hit his head on the rim in yet another gravity-defying dunk


Williamson has become such a showstopper that he attracted celebrities to Duke games, from former President Barack Obama …


… to Jay Z …

Mark Alberti/Icon Sportswire/Getty Images

… to LeBron James …

Justin Cooper/Icon Sportswire/Getty Images

… to Dwyane Wade …

Lance King/Getty ImagesAlso pictured: Shane Battier, Justise Winslow, and Udonis Haslem.

… to Floyd Mayweather.

Lance King/Getty ImagesAlso pictured: the Golden State Warriors’ Quinn Cook.

Though Williamson’s fame has exploded to a national level at Duke, he was already fairly well known in the basketball world as one of the top high-school prospects.


Williamson was born in Salisbury, North Carolina, and attended Spartanburg Day School, where he became a five-star recruit.


Williamson rose to fame through mixtape culture, which showed his explosive play. He often made other high-school kids look foolish on the court — he was simply on another level physically.


In 2017, Williamson and his AAU team, SC Supreme, faced the Big Ballers, which featured LaMelo Ball, the youngest brother of Lonzo Ball and the son of LaVar Ball. The game drew a crowd so big that people were turned away at the doors — and 80,000 people streamed it on Facebook Live.

Though LaMelo Ball was the bigger star at the moment, Williamson outshined him, scoring 28 points and helping SC Supreme get the win.


Read more:
80,000 people watched an AAU basketball game on Facebook that featured LaMelo Ball


Williamson averaged 36.4 points, 11.4 rebounds and 3.5 assists during his high-school career. ESPN ranked him the No. 2 prospect in the country in 2018.


Williamson eventually declared for Duke, which had a massive recruiting class, landing the No. 1 prospect, RJ Barrett, and the No. 3 prospect, Cam Reddish.

Michael Reaves/Getty Images

Upon landing at Duke, Williamson immediately made highlights — not for his play, but for his vertical test. Williamson jumped so high that the Duke staff began putting weights underneath the measuring device to raise it higher.


Read more:
Duke’s 285-pound top-ranked freshman is doing jumps that shouldn’t be possible


Some wondered how Williamson’s game would translate to college, where he wouldn’t have the same physical advantages he had in high school. There was also concern about Williamson being a “tweener,” or a player in between positions — too big and slow to play small forward, too small to play power forward or center.


As it turned out, Williamson did just fine. In Duke’s first three exhibition games, he averaged over 25 points on 80% shooting and nearly 11 rebounds per game.

He quickly became the top prospect in college basketball, even over his highly touted teammates in Barrett and Reddish.


Williamson is much more than a dunker. He also has a smooth handle that allows him to use his athletic ability in transition.


And his strength and leaping ability make him a menace on the glass.


Williamson doesn’t have the smoothest stroke, but his shot looks far from broken. He shot 31.5% from three as a freshman. If he can hit them more consistently in the NBA, he’ll be a terror.


Simply put, the basketball world has never really seen someone like Williamson: a nearly 300-pound player who is more athletic than his peers and amazingly skilled too.

Andy Lyons/Getty Images

Williamson had a scare in February when, in a highly anticipated matchup against UNC, he tore through his shoe on a drive, then injured his knee.


Read more:
Zion Williamson’s shoe exploded and he injured a knee in first minute against North Carolina


The incident drew major national attention not only for the bizarre nature of the injury, but for concerns about Williamson’s collegiate future. Some argued he should sit out the rest of the season to protect his future earnings in the NBA.

Read more: The NBA world called on Zion Williamson to sit out the rest of the college season after his freak injury reignited a debate over NCAA rules


Williamson missed five games with his knee injury. When he returned to action, he said of the idea of sitting out, “Thanks, but no thanks.”


Williamson’s return to the floor was emphatic. He dominated in the ACC Tournament, averaging 27 points, 10 rebounds, two steals, and one block per game while shooting 77% from the floor and 50% from three, helping Duke win the title.

Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

Now Williamson will try to lead Duke to the NCAA Tournament title. The Blue Devils are the heavy favourites.


Read more:
More than 70% of March Madness brackets have Duke going to the Final Four – here are the 15 most popular picks


After the tournament, Williamson will set his eyes on the NBA. He’s sure to be the No. 1 pick, and plenty of NBA fan bases will be clamoring for him.

Lance King/Getty Images

Now check out the other top prospects to watch in the NCAA Tournament.

21 players we can’t wait to watch in the NCAA Tournament, ranked »

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