One on one with 5* PF Zion WIlliamson

One of the top overall prospects and on the Duke recruiting board in the class of 2018 is South Carolina big forward Zion Williamson.  The five star prospect recently sat down with TDD to discuss his recruitment, Duke’s ramped up interest, and more.

How have things been going for you since the summer club ball schedule?

I’ve been doing well and getting better. I’ve been working on conditioning and shooting the 3 point shot in games more.

What kind of conditioning program are you going through these days?

I usually get in the gym and I run sprints for at least three or four minutes and then sometimes I’ll also go over to the track field and I’ll run several 400 meters intervals, just to keep my conditioning up. I had a physical back in November too and I was weighing about 220 pounds and I was at 6-foot-6.

You had a really busy summer, how do you think you played and in what ways did you feel you improved as a player?

I feel like I played well because I feel like I left a good mark during this summer. I feel like I’m just a basketball player because my versatility lets me help my team in multiple ways. I got better shooting the 3-point shot because I know I can take people to the basket, but I know I’m going to have to get better at shooting the 3 and shooting the mid-range now to do well in college. For some reason in the game I don’t tend to shoot 3s unless I’m wide open. I feel like I do well with my versatility and athleticism I can go into the post and help my team with rebounding and I can also dribble and beat guys off the dribble, that allows me to play on the wing most of the time too.

You got a chance to compete at the Elite 24 this summer, what was that experience like?

It was a great experience because you are surrounded by 24 of the top players in the country and it’s a great environment in New York, the fans are crazy. The only person I knew well was Naz Reid, but there were many other guys I got to know while I was up there. I built good friendships over the summer with Romeo Langford, Rechon Black, I would say those two mainly we are talking and texting a lot.

What are your thoughts on Romeo as a player?

My thoughts on Romeo as a player is he’s an amazing player and he can do a variety of things on the court, he can score on all 3 levels and I wouldn’t mind playing with him in college, I think we’d make a big impact if we played together in college.

How serious has that been discussed with you and Romeo about potentially playing together in college?

At first we thought we were joking about it, but now we’ve gotten more serious about it. We’ve been talking about playing together in college. We’re two players that can score and our abilities on the floor, he plays combo guard and I can play the 3 or the 4, so we feel like us together could do something really special.

Are you and him discussing taking any visits together to schools, either unofficially or officially?

No sir we haven’t talked about that yet.

How about for you, any recent visits or any in the planning stages?

I haven’t taken any recent visits, but I am in the process of setting up some unofficials. I’m looking at programs that are texting me the most and that’s who I’m looking at setting up visits with. Off the top of my head, there’s so many that text and are in contact, so it’s probably going to come down to a family aspect and who I’ve built a strong relationship with.

Are there any programs that you feel that you have already had some really good conversations with and that you are hearing from them regularly?

I’ve had good conversations with off the top of my head Florida, North Carolina, Duke, Georgia Tech, South Carolina, Clemson, UCLA and Arizona and a couple more. With North Carolina Roy Williams has talked with me about the family atmosphere there and that’s one thing I’m going to look into strongly. We talked a lot about family and we talked about them both academically and athletically.

How frequently are you talking with Coach Roy or any of his assistants?

Every two days we talk I’d say. They offered me a while ago.

How about on the Duke side of things, what’s the communication situation been with them so far?

With Duke it’s almost the same thing. Coach K talks with me about Duke’s family atmosphere and what Duke can do for me both academically and athletically, that’s things I look into strongly. I’ve gotten to talk with him three times because he when he was out in Rio for the Olympics, he wasn’t taking too many phone calls with recruits.

What were the timing of those three phone calls then with Coach K ?

Two of them were before the Olympics and one was after the Olympics, that’s when he offered me the scholarship. He talked about how he liked my game and how I’m a basketball player that can play multiple positions from the 2 to the 4 and that’s how he likes to play guys at Duke. He also talked about the family aspect, the athletic aspect and the academic aspect as well and what Duke could do for me.

How did you react to receiving that Duke offer?

It was amazing because when you have somebody of Coach K’s status calling your phone and offers you a scholarship, it’s an amazing feeling. To me, receiving a scholarship from any D 1 program is amazing because that shows that all of my hard work has paid off a little bit.

When the Duke offer came, was that an offer that you were either expecting to come or were hoping to come?

I wasn’t expecting it to come and I wasn’t really hoping for it to come because I can’t hope for a school to possibly call when there are other schools that are recruiting me hard and I feel like that wouldn’t be fair. Coach K told me he wished that he could have come to some of my games but it was hard because when he was in Rio he wasn’t doing any recruiting since he was busy with USA.  The timeframe of the offer didn’t bother me because whether they offered me last or first, what matters is the relationship that I have with them.

What were your pre-offer impressions of Duke?

I just liked to watch certain players more than schools that I used to hear a lot about. I used to hear about Tyler Hansbrough a lot, I used to hear about Stanley Johnson, the dude from Creighton that scored a lot. I heard about some players from Butler too, but really the players were from all over, so if I heard about them like on ESPN, I would try to catch their games on TV.

Did the Duke offer cause you to sense a change in feelings towards them from how you felt about them before the offer?

I had a change in feeling for them because like I said before, I can’t hope for a school to offer me because there’s other schools that recruited me. Now that I have an offer from them, I’m going to look even more into their basketball program and their academics and how they develop their players to reach the NBA.

Have you looked into the basketball situations at each program in terms of potential early playing time opportunities for you?

Yes sir I am looking into that also.

Are there any programs recruiting you that you feel just do a really good job at playing and developing players at your position area?

I’d say that Arizona is a program that I didn’t know this before but they told me that they had guys like Stanley Johnson and Aaron Gordon who they used with their athleticism. Other schools have just talked me with me about my game and what they can do for me.

Is there anybody you would point to that is helping you with the recruiting process?

Right now I’m just really enjoying the process because most kids don’t have my opportunities so I just always enjoy it. My mom is going to be the main one helping me with this.


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