Zion Lateef Williamson, popularly known as Zion Williamson, is an American basketball player. He professionally plays for the ‘New Orleans Pelicans’ of the ‘National Basketball Association’ (NBA). With a height of 2.01 meters and a weight of 129 kg, Williamson plays at the small forward and the power forward positions. He is the first player born in the 2000s to be selected for the ‘NBA.’ Following a stunning performance with the ‘Duke Blue Devils,’ a basketball team representing ‘Duke University,’ Williamson was selected as an amateur by the ‘Pelicans,’ for the 2019 ‘NBA Draft’ that took place in Brooklyn, New York. Since high school, Williamson drew attention for his proficiency in the “slam dunk,” a move that requires one to jump into the air and put the ball into the basket with one or both hands. During high school, he earned titles such as the ‘South Carolina Mr. Basketball.’ He was the ‘McDonald’s All-American’ runner-up for ‘Mr. Basketball USA.’ In his freshman and only season with ‘Duke University,’ Williamson was named the ‘ACC Player of the Year’ and the ‘ACC Rookie of the Year.’ During college, he also earned the ‘AP Player of the Year’ and the ‘Sporting News College Player of the Year’ honors, along with the ‘Wayman Tisdale Award.’
Childhood & Early Life
Zion Williamson was born on July 6, 2000, in Salisbury, North Carolina, to Lateef Williamson and Sharonda Sampson. Lateef was a football defensive lineman at ‘Mayo High School’ in Darlington and later at ‘Livingstone College,’ a black Christian college in Salisbury. Sampson was a sprinter at ‘Livingstone’ and later became a middle-school health and physical education teacher.
Williamson was named by his mother after the biblical location Mount Zion near Jerusalem.
Williamson and his family moved to Florence, South Carolina, when he was 2 years old. When he was 5, his parents divorced and his mother married Lee Anderson, a former basketball player representing ‘Clemson University.’ His stepfather trained him to develop skills as a point guard, while his mother coached him for the ‘Sumter Falcons’ in the ‘Amateur Athletic Union’ circuit, helping him face opponents 4 years older than him.
Williamson joined the basketball team at ‘Johnakin Middle School’ in Marion, South Carolina, where he was again coached by his mother. He was also a point guard and lost only 3 matches in 2 years.
Before venturing into basketball, Williamson played soccer and was also a football quarterback.
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High School Career
In 2015, as a freshman, Williamson represented ‘Spartanburg Day School.’ It was at this time that he developed the ability to dunk. He averaged 24.4 points, 9.4 rebounds, 2.8 assists, 3.3 steals, and 3.0 blocks, all of which earned him the ‘All-State’ and ‘All-Region’ honors. He also led his team in the ‘South Carolina Independent School Association’ (SCISA) state championship game and the ‘SCISA North-South All-Star Game’ in Sumter, South Carolina. It was during his freshman year that Williamson received his first basketball scholarship offer, from ‘Wofford College.’
In 2016, as a sophomore, Williamson averaged 28.3 points, 10.4 rebounds, 3.9 blocks, and 2.7 seats in each game. Following this, he was named the ‘SCISA Region I-2A Player of the Year.’ The same year, Williamson participated in the ‘National Basketball Players Association (NBPA) Top 100 Camp’ and was the highest scorer. He also won the ‘Under Armour Elite 24’ showcase dunk contest in New York City.
As a junior in the second half of 2016, Williamson averaged 36.8 points, 13 rebounds, 3 steals, and 2.5 blocks per game. By December, he recorded 31 points and 14 rebounds to win the ‘Most Valuable Player’ at the ‘Farm Bureau Insurance Classic.’
In 2017, Williamson led his team ‘Spartanburg Day’ to win their first ‘SCISA Region I-2A’ title. He was also named the ‘Player of the Year.’ In August, he was named the ‘Most Valuable Player’ of the 2017 ‘Adidas Nations’ camp, after averaging 22.5 points and 7.2 rebounds in 6 games.
As a senior in the second half of 2017, Williamson averaged 36.4 points, 11.4 rebounds, and 3.5 assists per game. He won against ‘Hammond School,’ the ‘Asheville Christian Academy,’ and ‘Greensboro Day School,’ while he lost to ‘Christ School’ and ‘Chino Hills High School.’
In early 2018, Williamson led his school, ‘Spartanburg Day,’ to its third consecutive victory in the ‘SCISA Region I-2A’ championship, defeating ‘Trinity Collegiate School.’ The same year, he also participated in the 2018 ‘McDonald’s All-American Game.’ He finally accepted the basketball scholarship offer from ‘Duke University’ under the guidance of legendary coach Mike Krzyzewski. Williamson was one of his top three recruits.
In 2018, Williamson represented ‘Duke’ and led his team to victory with ‘Kentucky,’ the Canadian university ‘Ryerson,’ and ‘Army.’ He became the second player in school history to record at least 25 points, 15 rebounds, and 5 blocks in a single game. He was aptly named both the player and the freshman of the week in the ‘Atlantic Coast Conference.’
In 2019, Williamson won over ‘Wake Forest,’ ‘Florida State,’ ‘Notre Dame,’ ‘St. John’s,’ and ‘NC State.’ He won the ‘Atlantic Coast Conference’ title for two more times. He set a new freshman record for ‘Duke’ by recording at least 25 points, 10 rebounds, and 5 steals in a game, beating Christian Laettner’s record from 1992.
In 2019, during the ‘NCAA Tournament,’ ‘CBS’ devoted a camera, called the ‘Zion Cam,’ to record the movements of Williamson. The same year, he joined the ranks of Kevin Durant and Anthony Davis to become one of the only freshmen to collect 500 points, 50 steals, and 50 blocks in a season.
On April 15, 2019, the ‘New Orleans Pelicans’ picked up Williamson for the 2019 ‘NBA Draft’, an association that selects eligible college-level basketball players He was one of three ‘Duke’ players drafted as lottery picks.
Major Awards & Achievements
In 2018, Williamson won several awards, such as the ‘McDonald's All-American,’ the ‘Jordan Brand Classic,’ the ‘Nike Hoop Summit,’ and the ‘South Carolina Mr. Basketball.’
In 2019, Williamson won honors such as the ‘Consensus National College Player of the Year,’ the ‘Consensus First-Team All-American,’ the ‘Wayman Tisdale Award,’ the ‘Karl Malone Award,’ the ‘ACC Player of the Year,’ the ‘First-Team All-ACC,’ the ‘ACC Rookie of the Year,’ and the ‘ACC Tournament MVP.’
An anonymous basketball coach once commented that Williamson appeared to be a “freak of nature.” Williamson is ambidextrous, which means he is capable of using both his hands with equal ease.