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Joe Boozell | | June 18, 2019

Zion Williamson’s 12 best college dunks, ranked

Zion Williamson's top NCAA tournament highlights

Duke freshman Zion Williamson took college basketball by storm in 2018-19. We've never seen an athlete quite like him. Williamson's combination of size and explosiveness was mesmerizing to watch.

We tracked his best dunks all year long. Here were some of Williamson's best slams of the season.

12. Let's start at the beginning. College basketball fans (of course) knew who Zion Williamson was before he ever set foot on the court at Cameron Indoor Stadium. Would the freshman live up to the hype? He began to answer that question on opening night against Kentucky in the Champions Classic, his first NCAA game. Look at the hang time he got on this slam off a Kentucky turnover:

11. How many college basketball players could pull this off? The dunk itself is fairly ordinary, but the whole play is incredibly rare. Zion collects a miss off of a free-throw and throws it down with ease. He has a knack for jumping off the screen multiple times per game, and this is a prime example.

10. It didn't matter how many defenders tried to stop Williamson. Wasn't happening. Zion's ball-handling doesn't get talked about enough; this is a slick in-and-out dribble to beat multiple defenders on arguably the best defense in the nation. Williamson didn't get a ton of playmaking opportunities at Duke, but when he did, he showed glimpses of brilliance.

9. R.J. Barrett caught some flack for shooting too much, but when he went into distributor mode, he showed that he's got some nice passing chops. He fed Williamson for a pretty alley-oop here, and Zion makes those look easy. This was his first game back from injury in early March and he didn't miss a shot. High-efficiency dunks always help that cause.

8. You often hear Zion compared to a football edge rusher or defensive lineman. Plays like this are the reason why. Williamson mastered basketball's version of the Pick Six at Duke: he was a menace as a defender and often turned defense into offense. And once Zion is in the open floor, he's capable of doing truly miraculous things.

7. When Zion is able to fully gather himself and catch a lob with a two-foot jump, it's over. Just ask Indiana. Williamson's transition dominance is his most obvious skill, and it was in full force against the Hoosiers. An underrated part of Zion's game, though, is his intellect. He kind of lulls Indiana defenders to sleep here, forcing them to converge on Tre Jones. Then, he kicks it into high gear, and Jones finds him for the easy flush.

6. Zion threw down several dunks in a nonconference game against Eastern Michigan, and this was one of the most notable. The sheer power is insane, and he does it with his off hand to boot. Williamson builds up a head of steam in the open floor and rocks the Cameron Indoor rims.

5. The Indiana game was another signature night for Williamson. This is dunk contest-level stuff in live game action. You see so many great Zion dunks that you may become immune to their greatness and difficulty, but there are so few college players who can throw down a windmill with this type of thunder.

4. Williamson in the open floor is a scary sight. Here's a 360-dunk he threw down against Clemson. Zion's actual weight is the subject of much debate, but we do know this: he's huge. Massive players like Williamson shouldn't be able to throw down 360s at all, and certainly not with the ease that Zion can. Lo and behold, though....

3. We should mention something: Zion is a ridiculous dunker. We know this. But putting yourself in position to dunk is a skill, and he excels there, too. This is not an easy steal, but Williamson has the defensive instincts to sniff out what the inbounder is doing. And then the power and athleticism is on display. This is another wild windmill.

2. This was the first truly eye-opening dunk for Zion because of how high he got. It looks like he gets his full head above the rim at his apex. Williamson had plenty of these types of dunks throughout the year: transition breakouts where his teammates would find him for an alley-oop. But this was one of the most special (spoiler alert: one more to come) you'll ever see.

1. Someone must have turned the gravity off for this Sweet 16 jam against Virginia Tech. The great thing about watching Zion dunks live is that you almost can't believe your eyes when you see them at full speed. This was one of those. You could see the play developing as Duke got out on to a fastbreak and his engine was humming. But, as a viewer, you're just not used to seeing guys get this high and finish with such emphatic authority.

Also worth nothing: Williamson says it's his favorite dunk from his freshman year.

AWARD CONTENDERS: Cousy Award | West Award | Erving Award | Malone Award | Abdul-Jabbar Award

And if you'd like to see every Zion dunk at Duke, check out this reel.


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