|No. 1 – Duke Blue Devils|
|Position||Small forward / Power forward|
|League||Atlantic Coast Conference|
|Born||July 7, 2000|
Salisbury, North Carolina
|Listed height||6 ft 7 in (2.01 m)|
|Listed weight||285 lb (129 kg)|
|High school||Spartanburg Day School|
(Spartanburg, South Carolina)
|Career highlights and awards|
Zion Williamson (born July 7, 2000) is an American college basketball player for the Duke Blue Devils of the Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC). Listed at 6 ft 7 in (2.01 m) and 285 pounds (129 kg), he plays the small forward and power forward positions. He is one of the top prospects for the 2019 NBA draft.
Williamson attended Spartanburg Day School in Spartanburg, South Carolina, where he was a five-star recruit and was ranked among the top players in his class. He led his team to three state titles during his high school career. Williamson was a McDonald's All-American and South Carolina Mr. Basketball as a senior in 2018. He gained national recognition in high school for his highlight videos featuring his slam dunking ability.
Williamson was born July 7, 2000, in Salisbury, North Carolina to Lateef Williamson and Sharonda Sampson. He was named after the biblical location Mount Zion in Jerusalem. In his childhood, Williamson played multiple sports including soccer and football. At age 5, he set sights on becoming a college basketball star. He played in youth leagues under his mother's coaching and played for the Sumter Falcons on the Amateur Athletic Union (AAU) circuit, facing nine-year-old opponents at age 5. Williamson later began working with his stepfather Lee Anderson, a former Clemson basketball player, to improve his skills as a point guard. He played basketball at Johnakin Middle School in Marion, South Carolina, where he was coached by his mother and averaged 20 points per game.
High school career
Shortly before ninth grade, Williamson enrolled at Spartanburg Day School, a small K–12 private school in Spartanburg, South Carolina, where he played basketball for the Griffins. Between eighth and ninth grade, he grew from 5 ft 9 in (1.75 m) to 6 ft 3 in (1.91 m). In the summer leading up to his first season, Williamson trained in the school gym and developed the ability to dunk. As a freshman, he averaged 24.4 points, 9.4 rebounds, 2.8 assists, 3.3 steals and 3.0 blocks, earning All-State and All-Region honors. Williamson also led the Griffins to a state championship game appearance. By his sophomore year, he stood 6 ft 6 in (1.98 m). In his second high school season, Williamson averaged 28.3 points, 10.4 rebounds, and 2.5 assists per game. He guided his team to win its first South Carolina Independent School Association (SCISA) state title. In June 2016, Williamson was a top performer at the National Basketball Players Association (NBPA) Top 100 camp. As a junior, he averaged 36.8 points and 13.0 rebounds per game and led the Griffins to their second straight state championship, in which he scored 51 points. As a senior, Williamson averaged 36.4 points and 11.4 rebounds per game, winning his third state title. Williamson was selected to play in the McDonald's All-American Game and took part in the Nike Hoop Summit.
Williamson was rated as a five-star recruit and the third-best prospect in the class of 2018, according to 247Sports. As a high school freshman, he received his first college offer to play for Wofford. In June 2015, during his sophomore year, Williamson received an offer to Clemson, which recruiting experts would later consider his most likely destination. In August 2016, he was offered by Duke, and in the following year, by Kentucky. He also received a football scholarship offer from LSU, who wanted him to be a tight end, but he did not show interest. Williamson committed to play basketball for Duke on January 20, 2018, choosing the Blue Devils over Clemson and South Carolina. Stephen K. Benjamin, mayor of Columbia, South Carolina, had tweeted that he was willing to officially name the date "Zion Williamson Day." At Duke, Williamson joined R. J. Barrett and Cameron Reddish, the two best recruits, making it the first time a college team signed the top-3 recruits in a class since modern recruiting rankings began.
|Name||Hometown||High school / college||Height||Weight||Commit date|
|Spartanburg, SC||Spartanburg Day School||6 ft 6 in (1.98 m)||272 lb (123 kg)||Jan 20, 2018|
|Recruiting star ratings: Scout: Rivals: 247Sports: ESPN: ESPN grade: 96|
|Overall recruiting rankings: Rivals: 5 247Sports: 7, 2 (PF), 1 (SC) ESPN: 2, 1 (PF), 1 (SC)|
Williamson made his preseason debut for Duke on August 15, 2018, in an 86–67 win over Canadian university Ryerson, recording a double-double of 29 points and 13 rebounds and shooting 3-of-4 from three-point range. On November 6, in his first regular season game with Duke, he scored 28 points on 11-of-13 shooting in 23 minutes in a 118–84 win over Kentucky at the Champions Classic.
Standing 6 feet 7 inches (2.01 m) and weighing 285 pounds (129 kg), Williamson has been widely praised as a physical specimen. Despite his heavy weight, he is known for his speed and leaping ability. NBA player Kevin Durant described him as a "once-in-a-generation type athlete" while an anonymous college basketball coach labeled him a "freak of nature." Williamson plays the power forward position but is also capable of being a small ball center. He has been described as not fitting a specific basketball position. His physical attributes have drawn comparisons to former NBA stars Charles Barkley and Larry Johnson. In addition, according to different analysts, he resembles NBA players LeBron James and Julius Randle. Basketball coach Roy Williams reportedly told Williamson that he was the best player he had seen since Michael Jordan. Williamson, who is left-handed, is almost ambidextrous, being adept using either hand.
While in high school, Williamson drew national attention for his slam dunks. The Charlotte Observer remarked that he "could be the best high-school dunker in history." NBA point guard John Wall has likened Williamson's in-game dunking ability to that of Vince Carter. Williamson's outside shooting has been considered a point of concern, and he has unorthodox shot mechanics. Recruiting service 247Sports has praised his ball handling and passing skills for his size, commenting that they are "overshadowed by [his] athletic plays." Williamson has the ability to defend multiple positions well due to his speed and length, although his defensive effort has been questioned. His explosiveness makes him a reliable shot-blocker and gives him prowess as a rebounder.
Williamson's father Lateef Williamson was a defensive lineman who earned All-American honors at Mayo High School in Darlington, South Carolina. Lateef had committed to NC State before transferring to Livingstone College. Williamson's mother Sharonda Sampson was a sprinter at Livingstone and became a middle school health and physical education teacher. When he was two years of age, following the death of Sampson's mother, his family moved to Florence, South Carolina. By the time he was five years old, his parents divorced, and Sampson married former Clemson basketball player Lee Anderson. Williamson attended Spartanburg Day School with his younger brother Noah, who is about 13 years his junior.
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