All it took was 40 minutes, a few unworldly highlights, and an insane opening-night rout on national television for college basketball fans to fall in love with one of the game’s next big superstars. Say hello to Duke Blue Devils freshman forward Zion Williamson, in case you haven’t already.
Williamson was far more than the social media sensation he became as a high school phenom on Tuesday night in No. 4 Duke’s 118-84 blowout of No. 2 Kentucky. In many ways, he looked even better than advertised inside Bankers Life Fieldhouse in Indianapolis, Indiana, dropping 28 points on 11-for-13 shooting with seven rebounds, two assists and some moments that made you shake your head in disbelief.
That’s exactly who Williamson is, though. He’s a 6-foot-8, 285-pound college freshman unicorn that is built like freight train, looks like he’s jumping off a trampoline more often than not, and he’s been doing this for a little while now. He’s just never been on the kind of stage he played on to start the 2018-19 season.
Look, those highlights are insane and that was against perennial powerhouse Kentucky in the Champions Classic. Williamson, one of they key pieces in a legendary 2018 recruiting class, was near perfect and the hype went completely bonkers.
After one college game, Zion Williamson is going to win the national championship by himself.
After one college game, Zion Williamson is going to be the No. 1 overall pick in the 2019 NBA Draft.
After one college game, Zion Williamson is going to help his NBA team compete for an NBA championship.
After one college game, Zion Williamson is still not good enough to start on Michigan’s Fab 5. (Wait, what?)
Yes, some of these takes are strictly hyperbole. Nobody should be that naive to believe everything people say or take it all to heart. It just was an impressive game, and it’s understandable why people are drooling over Williamson after his debut.
But let’s pump the brakes for just a second.
Let’s not pretend freshman RJ Barrett — the actual top overall prospect in high school and the upcoming NBA draft — didn’t go off for a Duke debut record of 33 points and six assists or that freshman Cam Reddish didn’t spread the defense to drop 22 points of his own.
Let’s also not pretend that freshman Tre Jones didn’t make life pretty easy at times with seven assists and zero turnovers, and that big men Marques Bolden and Jack White didn’t do a lot of the dirty work on the glass all game long.
Then again, maybe Williamson is that good and everyone is already right?
If this was your first glimpse of Williamson, buckle up for a wild season of highlights. He’s clearly just getting started, and whether you like it or not, the hottest of takes will follow, even if he is potentially the third best player on his own team.