Duke’s Zion Williamson, the 6-foot-8-inch forward who has led the Blue Devils this season, is widely expected to be chosen with the top overall pick in the NBA Draft this summer. And Williamson added to his legend Saturday with one of the most memorable plays of the college basketball season.
Duke, who entered the game ranked No. 3 in the country, was facing Virginia, who was ranked No. 1. Per Deadspin, in the game’s fourth quarter, Duke was leading 68-61 with 4:40 left when Virginia’s De’Andre Hunter attempted a three-pointer. But then, Williamson jumped high in the air towards Hunter and swatted the ball out of play.
The Blue Devils went on to win the game 81-71.
The block came with LeBron James and others from his agent’s company, Klutch Sports, in attendance.
“There are probably two people in the world that can make that play, and they were both in the gym,” Virginia head coach Tony Bennett said after the game, per Deadspin, referring to Williamson and James. Williamson later said that he hadn’t seen James there.
James, whose Lakers team is playing the 76ers in Philadelphia on Sunday, had apparently decided to make a side trip to Charlottesville, Virginia, to check out the college game.
Yahoo Sports speculated that James may have been there to “recruit” Williamson, or perhaps he is ” just a big basketball geek.” Williamson would not be eligible to sign with an agent while still an active college paper, while the Lakers are extremely unlikely to have a high enough draft position to be in any position to pick Williamson this offseason.
Look at where Zion is when the ball is caught pic.twitter.com/qu5G2saCNd— Ⓜ️arcusD ᴿᴵᴾ ᴹᵃʳᶜᵘˢᴰ² (@_MarcusD3_) February 10, 2019
The 18-year-old Williamson was born in North Carolina and won three state championships with his N.C. high school team. Heavily recruited, he chose Duke, joining R.J. Barrett and Cam Reddish in one of the top recruiting classes in the history of college basketball.
Per Sports Reference, Williamson is averaging 21.8 points per game this season, on 68.4 percent shooting, in 23 games. He’s also averaging two blocked shots per game. Duke’s record is 21-2, including a 9-1 record in their conference, the ACC.
Bleacher Report‘s latest NBA Mock Draft for 2019 lists Williamson as the No. 1 overall pick, going to the New York Knicks. However, it will be unknown until the NBA Draft lottery in May which teams will be picking in which spots. Some speculation prior to the trading deadline also had the Knicks, in the event they get the top pick, trading it to New Orleans in an effort to acquire Anthony Davis.