by Sullivan Burgess ’20
This year’s Naismith College Basketball Player of the Year will go to none other than Duke University freshman Zion Williamson. If you are unfamiliar with Williamson, then prepare for what the sports media calls the next LeBron James, a title he has held since his junior year of high school.
Williamson, from Salisbury, North Carolina, is 6’6” and 285 lbs, making him one of the biggest college basketball players in history, even out-weighting a current batch of NBA players.
The freshman came into Duke as number two in the ESPN Top 100 players, right behind his current teammate, R.J. Barrett. He has never looked back and has proven his status as a legendary force to be reckoned with when being guarded.
Not only is the freshman forward currently averaging 22.3 points and 9.4 rebounds per game, but he has also brought the team to the number two spot in the entire country of division one basketball. However, the team has constantly been battling back and forth between the second and first spot throughout the season.
Williamson leads the country in player efficiency with 42.5 which is 5.6 higher than the next highest player. This high number reflects Williamson being able to find success in multiple facets of the game.
Williamson saw success early this season by earning the ACC Player of the week honors in his first week. Williamson helped the team to be unstoppable, raising the question of whether he and the entire Duke team were able to beat a current roster in the NBA. However, these conversations were put to rest when the team lost the Maui Invitational Tournament to Gonzaga University.
Last month, Williamson set the single-game freshman scoring record with 35 points, surpassing former Duke players Marvin Bagley III and J.J. Redick. He also received his third ACC Freshman of the Week award for the season.
In his first two games of February, Williamson recorded 29 points against St. John’s University, and 16 points and 17 rebounds against Boston College.
From the start of the season, Williamson has been a high contender for the first overall pick of the NBA Draft. Some professionals and members of the sport media even think Williamson should sit out the rest of the season and focus on the draft. However, Williamson wants to focus on his only goal right now, winning the NCAA Men’s Division I Basketball Tournament and being a championship caliber player to whichever team drafts in the 2019 NBA Draft.