Duke landed the top three freshman basketball prospects, none of whom should be more exciting to watch than Zion Williamson.
Williamson became an internet phenom in recent years for his highlight dunks in high school in Spartanburg, South Carolina, where he showed a rare blend of size, explosiveness, and agility.
The hype around Williamson has only continued to build heading into his freshman season. Williamson is officially listed at 6-foot-7 and 285 pounds. To put that into perspective, LSU listed Shaquille O’Neal at 7-foot-1, 294 pounds during his freshman season.
Williamson’s physical makeup is almost unprecedented. As ESPN’s Jonathan Givony broke down on “The Jump,” perhaps the only comparable player is Charles Barkley, who was listed at 6-foot-6, 282 pounds coming into the NBA.
Neither Barkley nor O’Neal could compare to Williamson’s athleticism, however. On Tuesday, in what appeared to be an open practice, Williamson showed off that he can dunk from the free-throw line.
Williamson also possesses perhaps the most freakish vertical in all of basketball. ESPN documented Williamson’s vertical test, which he passed so easily that Duke’s staff had to begin putting weights underneath the measuring device to raise it higher.
Some of the jumps were truly insane.
Of course, anyone who saw any of Williamson’s numerous high-school dunks knew he could jump.
It’s unclear how Williamson’s game will translate to college, where the gap between him and other athletes is smaller than in high school. Givony said Duke might use him as an undersized center, a move that would jibe with the modern NBA. Williamson would have an athletic advantage over nearly every other big man and would not have to keep up with quicker perimeter players.
Williamson will be among the most fascinating college players to watch this season. And at the very least, it seems likely that he’ll deliver at least a few highlights.