Kentucky coach John Calipari is known for his ability to recruit and improve freshmen, so it’s perhaps a touch surprising that he wasn’t able to land Zion Williamson.
Williamson ultimately attended Duke and took college basketball by storm, which led Calipari to admit that he’d underestimated exactly what the young big man could do.
“We recruited Zion. I probably missed him a little bit,” Calipari told The Dan Patrick Show on Friday, via Jeff Borzello of ESPN. “I knew he was going to be good, I didn’t know he was going to be this good. I knew he could dominate, but not like he’s done.
“When we played against him, I walked off the court and said, ‘I missed on another one!’ I knew he’d be good … the kid’s off the chain.”
Kentucky was involved in Williamson’s recruitment, but not as aggressively as Duke. The Blue Devils’ success didn’t really sit well with Calipari at the time, though both ended up getting equally far in this year’s NCAA Tournament, with both schools falling in the Elite Eight.
New York Knicks fans should get excited, and not just because of the possibility of Kevin Durant joining the franchise.
Zion Williamson was named AP Player of the Year on Friday. He spoke with the media and was asked about the possibility of playing for the Knicks. The Duke star said he would “love” to play for them if they draft him.
Zion on the possibility of playing for the Knicks: “If they draft me, I would love to play for them.”
— Malcolm Moran (@malcolm_moran) April 5, 2019
If nothing else, Zion is smooth with the media and knows how to handle questions. He has a great attitude and says he will feel honored by whatever team drafts him.
Williamson seems to be a lock to go No. 1 overall, and the team that wins this year’s lottery is viewed as one that will be getting a franchise-changing player. Knicks fans are just salivating over the possibilities.
What team ends up drafting Zion Williamson is the most intriguing question surrounding the Duke star. But it’s not the only big one that will be answered in the coming months.
Another major question about Williamson is with what shoe company he ends up signing. According to ESPN’s Nick DePaula, seven different shoe companies have interest in Williamson. In his original report on the matter, DePaula speculated that Williamson could receive offers from six different brands: Nike, Adidas, Under Armour, New Balance, Puma and Anta.
During an appearance on ESPN’s “The Jump” Thursday, DePaula said he has talked to a seventh company that wants to be involved in the bidding for Williamson. He says that the brand is Chinese, like Anta. One company reportedly is willing to offer $10 million a year for Williamson.
Williamson is worth that kind of investment. Not only is he a talented, athletic player, but he also seems to have great character. He has a tremendous following that is only growing and is already a star. And while Nike seems like it could make sense, don’t discount another brand in the mix.
Duke star Zion Williamson all but confirmed what everyone already knows after his team’s 68-67 Elite Eight loss to the Michigan State Spartans.
Williamson said there is a “high chance” he will forego his final three seasons of eligibility and enter the NBA Draft.
Zion essentially confirms the obvious. Says there’s a “high chance” he enters NBA Draft. Wants to discuss with his parents before saying anything official.
— Pete Thamel (@PeteThamel) March 31, 2019
The discussion with his parents should be a brief one. Nobody thought Williamson would be any more than a one-and-done player. He’s projected as a potential first overall pick, and the formal announcement of his decision should come quickly. It’s telling that he all but admitted to it less than an hour after his freshman season ended.
Despite the fact that he won’t get to play in a Final Four, Williamson owned the NCAA in what will be his only year there and put together a lengthy highlight reel during the NCAA Tournament alone. He was the dominant force in Sunday’s losing effort, too, scoring 24 points and grabbing 14 rebounds to go with three blocks and three steals.
Michigan State Spartans coach Tom Izzo knows exactly what he’s up against Sunday when his team faces the Duke Blue Devils for a spot in the Final Four.
The Spartans will have to contend with Zion Williamson, who Izzo described as “damn close” to being Superman.
Izzo on Zion: "He's not Superman. But he's damn close."
— Pete Thamel (@PeteThamel) March 30, 2019
Izzo joked that he might need to borrow Chicago Bears defensive lineman Khalil Mack to slow Williamson down.
Izzo on Zion: "Khalil Mack is a guy i look at. If i could borrow someone from Bears, maybe we could cover him."
— Pete Thamel (@PeteThamel) March 30, 2019
When you look at the things Williamson can do on the court, Izzo’s comparison isn’t all that off base.
There was a reason the Spartan coach was so frustrated with Michigan State’s draw, as a game like this feels a lot more like a Final Four tilt than a regional final. Michigan State ultimately will likely look to contain Williamson, clog up the middle, and use their toughness to neutralize him as best they can while daring Duke to beat them from the perimeter. It’s a simple road map for giving Duke problems, but much easier said than done.
Zion Williamson gave us the highlight of the NCAA Tournament, no surprise.
Williamson threw down a monster alley-oop in the second half of Duke’s Sweet 16 game against Virginia Tech to make it 58-52:
Zion is what happens when all the sliders are up pic.twitter.com/jKYvqlwXaX
— CJ Fogler (@cjzero) March 30, 2019
The alley-oop was reminiscent of one thrown down by former Duke star Grant Hill in 1991:
Grant Hill was doing Zion dunks before Zion was even born pic.twitter.com/sUR8MbGjpg
— CBS Sports (@CBSSports) March 30, 2019
The best part is Hill was calling the game for CBS.
Williamson also had an awesome block earlier in the game.
Zion Williamson threw a block party on Friday night, and Kerry Blackshear Jr was the guest of honor.
Eight minutes into Friday night’s Sweet 16 game between Duke and Virginia Tech, Williamson delivered a fierce rejection of a Blackshear shot attempt on the baseline:
— NCAA March Madness (@marchmadness) March 30, 2019
Some will say that looked like a goaltend by Williamson, and it was close. I didn’t see clear evidence that the ball was going downward before the freshman got up to reject it.
Zion is just a gamer who will look to make plays whenever he can and however he can. This was the latest example.