Chopping It Up With Zion Williamson At The Jordan Brand Classic

With his high school career in the books, future Duke Blue Devil Zion Williamson is now looking ahead. 

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The senior is enjoying his end-of-season run through the elite all-star circuit, though a thumb injury suffered in the McDonald’s All-American Game will keep him on the sidelines for the equally prestigious Jordan Brand Classic and Nike Hoop Summit events in Brooklyn and Portland respectively.

We caught up with the sensational 6-foot-7 guard/forward from South Carolina, whose YouTube highlights make you believe that your eyes have the capacity to lie. 

On Saturday at the Brooklyn Nets practice facility, we kicked the ballistics as the Jordan Brand All-Americans worked out and scrimmaged in preparation for the event’s 5:00 PM tip-off at Barclays Center on Sunday.

Among the many topics he touched on, he spoke about what he’s looking forward to at Duke next year, the playground legends he heard about growing up, his phenomenal Blue Devils freshman recruiting class and how he can’t wait to play ball in New York City’s most lit playground venue one day soon.


The Shadow League: What are you excited about in terms of your next steps?

Zion Williamson: I’m excited about going to college and working with the weight trainers and nutritionists so they can help me get my body where it needs to be. I’m also looking forward to bonding with my teammates and playing in Cameron Indoor Stadium. At Duke, there are no athletic dorms, so I’ll be interacting with everyone, not just athletes.

TSL: Who were some of the legendary ball players that you heard about growing up.

ZW: My step dad always talks about this player who he said is the greatest he’s ever seen play. He’s from Baltimore and went to Dunbar High School. His name is Skip Wise. I’ve never seen film on him, but the stories I hear from people that saw him play say he was better than Michael Jordan.

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Zion Williamson is a 6’8″, 16 year old small forward from Spartanburg, South Carolina. At this point, you’ve likely been paying attention to the fact that we have posted raw highlights from almost all of Zion’s high school games this season. You might ask yourself, why?

TSL: That’s a legendary name you just threw out there that most people don’t know nothin’ about! Gotta give you props for knowing about Honey Dip. Seems like some folks dropped some serious knowledge on you when you were younger.

ZW: Yeah, I heard about a lot of the greats that came through the parks like Rucker and Dyckman in New York and other cities as well. Dr. J and all those legendary players started on the blacktop, so my step dad would tell me about guys like Skip Wise and Dr. J playing out in the parks. Then I started doing research on my own about other great players from the playgrounds.

TSL: So I guess that it’s safe to say that the New York City playgrounds are gonna get blessed with a Zion Williamson appearance one day in the near future.

ZW: Most definitely. I’ve been talking to (Harlem native and current University of Minnesota point guard) Isaiah Washington, JQ (Villanova signee Jahvon Quinerly) and all the New York people about how I wanna come play at Dyckman. That’s the place where I feel like all the best hoopers go. If you’re a real dog and a real man, you can compete out there.

TSL: So speaking of New York, a lot of folks were hurt up when you injured your thumb because the city was bubblin’ about you coming to Barclays to play in this year’s Jordan Brand Classic.

ZW: Yeah, I’m very disappointed about the thumb injury and that I’m gonna have to sit out this game and the Nike Hoop Summit. But I’m thankful for the folks at the Jordan Brand allowing me to come here and live the experience. 

I’m gonna enjoy it as much as I can. I have to wear the cast for three more weeks, so right now I’m just in the gym running to keep my conditioning up. I’m also working on my form, shooting with one hand.

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Check out Zion Williamson goes crazy tonight as Spartanburd defeated Chrstian Academy to advance to the SCISA State Championship! Williamson had some nasty dunks including a windmill alley oop and he barely missed a 360 between the legs dunk! Zion finished the game with 38 points. ——————————— Follow Us On Social!

TSL: Outside of basketball, what do you do to take it easy?

ZW: I love watching Netflix and movies. My favorite movie is He Got Game with Ray Allen. My favorite show right now Rosewood. Been watching that a lot lately.

TSL: When did you fall in love with basketball?

ZW: From the moment I started playing, when I was five years old. It was just something about being in that rectangle, with the ball, just shooting, playing games. It just had a different type of excitement to it. I used to play football and soccer when I was younger. I was out there with my friends having fun. But basketball is my heart.

TSL: Obviously, your recruiting class coming into Duke is just ill, with R.J. Barrett, Cam Reddish and Tre Jones. Break down what ya’ll are going to bring to the Cameron Crazies next year.

ZW: R.J.’s so versatile, and he’ll bring emotion.He’s not selfish, he wants to see other people shine. He would talk to me on the side during my recruitment, saying what we could do at the next level and how it would be very special for us to come together. 

Tre and Cam added on to it. I felt I could bond with them and we could fit well together. If R.J.’s outside game is not working, he’s 6-foot-7 with long arms and can take his man with an outside post move or post him up down low. 

Cam is 6-foot-8 and when I’m attacking the basketball I can dish out to him, R.J. and Tre while we play some position-less basketball. 

Tre’s gonna be the facilitator for us. He’s the most underrated playmaker I think I’ve ever seen. It’s surprising that we’re already being talked about as the preseason No. 1 team. You know, we’ll be freshmen. And the team that usually wins the national championship is a team with experienced juniors and seniors. But with Coach K’s guidance and our talent level, I definitely think we can contend for one.

Duke Has Already Landed The Top Recruiting Class of All Time! Zion, Cam, Barrett & Jones!

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TSL: At Hoophall this winter, I saw you catch an outlet on the wing and take off full speed. A double team met you at halfcourt near the out-of-bounds line, you banged ’em with a quick in-and-out while crouched close to the floor, still racing downcourt, the ball bouncing up just inches off the floor.

You sliced the double and hit your teammate, who was cutting to the tin, with a vicious, sweet pass. It was a helluva subtle play that was crazy dope, that the casual fan could never comprehend.

I tell all these morons who say, “He can’t do anything but dunk!” that they either don’t know the game or have never seen you play, because if they did, they’d understand the ridiculousness of your skill set. On the big stage next year in college, what are you looking forward to showing people?

ZW: I’m looking forward to showing people my full skill set. If people paid attention to more than just the mixtapes and highlights, they’d realize that I wouldn’t be a McDonald’s All-American and Jordan Brand Classic player if all I did was dunk. 

I have a very large skill set that I feel goes unrecognized because of my dunks. Talking to Coach K, he saw that in me and told me from the very beginning, “You’re not just a dunker, you’re a very good basketball player. With you coming to Duke, I wanna show the world how great you really are.”

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