- 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.
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.”
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.
ZION WILLIAMSON JUST TOOK FLIGHT
— Bally Sports South (@BallySportsSO) November 15, 2018
Williamson has become such a showstopper that he attracted celebrities to Duke games, from former President Barack Obama …
… to Jay Z …
… to LeBron James …
… to Dwyane Wade …
… to Floyd Mayweather.
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.
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.
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.
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.