The independent news organization of Duke University

Duke men’s basketball 2018-19 player review: Zion Williamson

Zion's 360 dunk against Clemson Jan. 5 was one of just the many moments in which the National Player of the Year seemed to defy what humans can do on a basketball court.
Zion's 360 dunk against Clemson Jan. 5 was one of just the many moments in which the National Player of the Year seemed to defy what humans can do on a basketball court.

Zion Williamson

Season breakdown: Williamson seemed to revolutionize college basketball this past season, capturing national attention from the campaign's start to finish. The 285-pound forward worked all parts of the court this season, whether it was laying out for a loose ball, hitting a three during crunch time, getting his own rebound and putting it back up or pushing momentum down the court. Along with his 22.6 PPG and 8.9 RPG, Williamson added 2.1 steals per game, 2.1 assists per game and 1.8 blocks per contest. Williamson also ended the season shooting 68 percent from the field—a Division I freshman record.

The Spartanburg, S.C., native hit a bump in the road this season when he was injured in the first minute of the historic Duke versus North Carolina rivalry game. Williamson planted his foot and immediately went down, with his foot breaking through the bottom of his shoe. The Blue Devils had to carry on the rest of the year without the National Player of the Year, finishing the regular season 3-3 in his absence. 

Williamson proved to be a vital part of the team, both scoring and energy wise. His ability to drive in the paint and get to the rim no matter who was guarding him was unparalleled. Part of the forward’s extreme success came from the fact that he was not only a powerhouse player who could bulldoze his way through the defense effortlessly but also had the agility to move through the air and take the ball down the court with ease. 

In Duke’s overtime loss to Syracuse in early January, Williamson scored a career-high 35 points, adding a career-high 17 rebounds a few weeks later against Boston College. In his first game back from injury in the ACC tournament quarterfinals against the Orange, Williamson shot 100 percent from the field, going 13-of-13 with 14 rebounds in the Blue Devils' win.

Results relative to expectations: Despite coming in as the No. 2 overall prospect with a 40+ inch vertical and dunks that wowed basketball fans everywhere, Williamson seemed to exceed expectations this season. Yes, he could have been better from three and could have turned the ball over less. But Williamson's sheer power on offense and his ability to get to the rim and get second- and even third-chance shot opportunities was unlike anything college basketball has seen of late. 

Williamson swept nearly every college basketball award available to him due to his talent and success this season. He joined Kevin Durant and Anthony Davis as the only freshmen to win the John R. Wooden Award as the men’s player of the year at the fifth annual College Basketball Awards. That same night, he also won the Karl Malone Award for the nation’s best power forward. Williamson also racked up AP Player of the Year, the Naismith Award, ACC Rookie of the Year and ACC Player of the Year. 

After declaring for the 2019 NBA Draft on Monday night, Williamson is likely to be the No. 1 overall pick this upcoming June.


Share and discuss “Duke men’s basketball 2018-19 player review: Zion Williamson” on social media.