UNC Target Zion Williamson's Singular Focus

The path to dominance at this week's NBPA Top 100 Camp began a decade ago.

CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. – Ten years ago, Zion Williamson’s father asked him a simple question.

“What do you want to be when you grow up?” Lee Anderson asked his five-year-old son.

“I want to be a basketball player,” Williamson responded confidently.

Fun, but likely unrealistic, answers often come from the mouths of children when given a future-predicting question like the one Anderson asked.

Except Williamson meant it.

Soon, waking up at 5 a.m. on weekdays to work on his game became commonplace. Workouts every day were the expectation not the exception. A singular focus permeated Williamson’s thoughts – become a basketball player.

Now, the 6-7, 220-pound forward is showing coaches and fans what 10 years of intense work has yielded – a confident, physical player leading both the Adidas Uprising circuit and NBPA Top 100 Camp in scoring.

Sure his natural ability helped him, but it’s a passion for basketball that has made Williamson one of the top rising juniors in the country.

“Off the court, we can be friends and I’m a social person,” Williamson said. “When it comes to on the court, basketball is like my job. It’s all business. If you’re on the other team you ain’t my friend right now. I’m looking to destroy you. That (mentality) came from my dad. He always told me to have that dog in you, that killer mentality and that will separate you from other players.”

At the Top 100 Camp, Williamson is averaging 16.7 points through Friday’s games. He’s shooting 73.1 percent from the field, and 88.5 percent from the free-throw line. He’s made at least 80 percent of his shots in four of six games. Williamson has used a brutish inside attack, mixed with nimble feet and an effective jumper out to 15 feet, to puzzle defenders.

“I feel like I’ve been playing well because my team has been winning,” he explained. “I’m trying to be the most versatile player in the country, so I like to still show that I can come off the wing and handle the ball. The bright spots of my game are getting to the rim, finishing strong through contact and creating for my teammates.”

Coaches haven't hesitated to compare Williamson to current and former NBA players.

“Draymond Green, Zach Randolph, Larry Johnson and a couple of other people (I’m compared to a lot),” said Williamson. “I really haven’t seen Larry Johnson. I’m going to look at him (on tape) before I compare myself.”

All three of those players have played in the NBA All-Star game, all three were selected in the NBA Draft and all three played in at least one Final Four. College coaches realize what a player like Williamson can do, and are making sure he knows how important he is to their school.

“Seton Hall, South Carolina, Clemson, Alabama, Georgia Tech, Georgia and some other schools are prioritizing me,” he said. “(The) recruiting process is amazing. This spring I picked up 15+ offers … my recruitment has blown up. It’s a lot to take in, because I know I’m going to have to narrow, make a list and pick my college wisely.”

North Carolina called Anderson on Wednesday – the first day college coaches could contact rising juniors – to see if Williamson would take an unofficial visit to Chapel Hill to meet Roy Williams following the conclusion of the Top 100 Camp this weekend.

The family is still mulling if it can make the visit, but the invitation is another example of the Tar Heels’ interest in Williamson,'s No. 15 player in the class of 2018.

Williams and all three assistant coaches – Hubert Davis, C.B. McGrath and Steve Robinson – watched Williamson during the open evaluation periods this spring.

“(Carolina) is a school I’m interested in,” he said. “I’m looking for that school that fits my style of play. Whether that college is going to look out for me in the future, whether I go pro or don’t go pro.”

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