Duke, per usual, has landed three of the nation’s most coveted freshman basketball prospects in McDonald’s All-American forwards R.J. Barrett, Zion Williamson and shooting guard Cameron Reddish.
The young phenoms are the Class of 2018’s No. 1, No. 2 and No. 3-ranked players, respectively, marking the first time the top three high schoolers have all committed to the same college since the RSCI (Recruiting Services Consensus Index) debuted in 1998, according to SB Nation.
But the player getting the most press is the 6-7, 285-pound Willimson. With the kind of size that hasn’t been seen in college basketball since LSU listed Shaquille O’Neal at 7-1, 294 and Auburn had Charles Barkley at 6-6, 282, coupled with a reported 40-inch vertical leap, it’s easy to see why pro scouts are already salivating.
Even before rounding out what’s being seen as the best recruiting class in college basketball’s modern era, Williamson had already been generating plenty of buzz with his highlight reel dunks from his high school days in Spartanburg, South Carolina making the rounds on YouTube. Videos showcasing his freakish athleticism, however, separate Williamson from even those two icons of the sport.
His dunks from the free throw line are impressive enough, but there’s something beyond uncanny about video that’s circulating of Williamson’s vertical test at Duke. A guy that big isn’t supposed to be able to jump out of the gym. He got up so high that the staff had to keep putting weights under the bar to raise it up higher.
Experts say it’s a little too early to project how Williamson’s game will translate at the college level. Mike Krzyzewski could use him as an undersized center where he would have a clear advantage over pretty much every other big man in the country. If Duke’s preseason game against Ryerson on Wednesday, in which he finished with 29 points and 13 rebounds, is any indication, Williamson could be one of college basketball’s most dominant players this season. It’ll sure be fun to watch.