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Mitchell Northam | | March 29, 2019

Zion Williamson: Profile and background of Duke’s freshman phenom

Watch the ending of UCF vs Duke

Duke's Zion Williamson, a 6-foot-7 freshman, has been one of college basketball stars this season. He's led Duke to an ACC tournament title and while piling up highlights of dunks, blocks and other incredible plays along the way. Now he's leading No. 1 overall seed Duke into the Sweet 16 of the 2019 NCAA tournament.

Let’s look at Williamson's background and some of his highlights this season.


Zion Williamson: Biography, stats

Height 6-foot-7
Weight 285 pounds
Hometown Spartanburg, S.C.
Point per game 22.1
Rebounds per game 8.9
Assists per game 2.1
Blocks per game 1.8
Steals per game 2.2
FG% 69.3
FT% 65.4

Where is Duke's Zion Williamson from?

Williamson is from Spartanburg, S.C., where he played for Spartanburg Day School. He was the No. 2 overall recruit by ESPN for the 2018 recruiting class.

He led Spartanburg Day School to three straight South Carolina Class AA state titles, averaging 36.4 points, 11.4 rebounds and 3.5 assists. In the 2018 state title game, Williamson totaled 37 points, 17 rebounds and six blocks. A year earlier, he scored 51 points in the final.

Williamson's mother, Sharonda Williamson, ran track at Livingston College. His stepfather, Lee Anderson, played basketball at Clemson.

ZION DUNK REPORT: Tracking his best of the season

Zion Williamson: His Duke debut

Williamson played 23 minutes in a dominating Duke win on Nov. 6 at the State Farm Champions Classic in Indianapolis, Indiana. The Blue Devils won 118-84, and Williamson tallied 28 points, seven rebounds, two assists, a block and a steal in his first ever collegiate game.

One moment in that game was a preview of what was to come when Blue Devils were firing on all cylinders. Williamson blocked a Kentucky shot, dribbled up the left side and then fed a pass to RJ Barrett, who finished a layup in traffic.

Duke committed just four turnovers in a nearly flawless performance.

Zion Williamson highlights

In Williamson’s first ACC game, he and the Blue Devils took down Clemson, 87-68. The freshman from Spartanburg, South Carolina — which is just a short drive from Clemson’s campus — racked up 25 points, 10 rebounds, two blocks and two steals.

Williamson pulled off one of the most jaw-dropping plays of the year in this game, dunking after spinning 360 degrees in mid-air.

He told the Associated Press after the game: "I said, `You know what? I'm wide open. Why not?’ I did it, got high enough and it was almost like a layup."


Zion Williamson highlights

Not even a pack of Virginia defenders could stop Williamson from throwing down this one-handed slam. 

Williamson scored 27 points and grabbed nine rebounds in this 72-70 victory at Cameron Indoor Stadium.

This windmill dunk against San Diego State was fun, too.

Zion Williamson's injury

On Feb. 20, in the first minute of a highly anticipated game between Duke and rival North Carolina, Williamson’s left foot bursted through the bottom of his sneaker and he collapsed to the floor.

Williamson clutched his right knee, but walked off the floor. He did not return to the game, and despite Duke listing him as day-to-day, he missed the Blue Devils’ next five games.

His return from injury

Williamson came back to floor for Duke in the ACC tournament. In their quarterfinal against Syracuse, his first game in nearly a month, he had 29 points, 14 rebounds and five steals in a 12-point win for Duke in Charlotte.

Williamson scored 31 points in Duke’s ACC semifinal win over North Carolina, and tallied 21 points, five rebounds and two blocks in the Blue Devils’ title game win over Florida State.

BOOM: 5 reasons Zion's return for Duke-Syracuse was electrifying

Zion Williamson's high school career

Williamson will be taking the court in Columbia on Friday night, just 90 minutes from his childhood home in Spartanburg.

At Spartanburg Day School, Williamson was a McDonald’s All-American, a five-star recruit and a three-time state champion. Over his high school career, he averaged 36.4 points, 11.4 rebounds and 3.5 assists per game.

On June 6, 2017, he was on the cover of Slam Magazine. Williamson was heavily recruited by several top college basketball programs — including Clemson, North Carolina, Kentucky and Kansas — but chose Duke.

Zion in the 2019 NCAA tournament

Duke has advanced to the Sweet 16 with victories over North Dakota State and the University of Central Florida. That win over UCF and 7-6 Tacko Fall came in the final seconds in what might be the best game so far in the 2019 tournament. Zion and the Blue Devils won, 77-76, when UCF could not score in its final possession. Zion finished with 32 points. Fall battled and had 15 points, 6 rebounds and three blocks before fouling out.

In Duke's first NCAA tournament game, Zion posted 25 points on 12-for-16 shooting while adding three boards, one block and one steal in an 85-62 win against North Dakota State.

Mitchell Northam is a graduate of Salisbury University. His work has been featured at the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, the Orlando Sentinel, SB Nation, FanSided, USA Today and the Delmarva Daily Times. He grew up on Maryland's Eastern Shore and is now based in Durham, N.C.

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