Doyel: Meet Duke phenom Zion Williamson, the most unique college basketball player I’ve ever seen

INDIANAPOLIS – We’ll see Zion Williamson again at Bankers Life Fieldhouse. There will be a next time, and a time after that, and plenty more after that. But there’s only one first time, and Tuesday night at the Champions Classic was our first look at Williamson, a freshman at Duke and the most unique player in college basketball, and what we saw was almost beyond belief.

The whole thing was impossible. No. 3 Duke beating No. 2 Kentucky 118-84, just a ridiculous blowout of a John Calipari team with its usual assortment of future NBA draft picks. Another Duke freshman, 6-8 R.J. Barrett, scoring 33 points with six assists. A third Duke freshman, Cam Reddish, with 22 points and three assists. Top-three 2019 NBA draft picks, both of them. Absurd, all of it.

But Zion Williamson is a whole different deal.

A better player than Barrett and Reddish? Look, don’t ask me that. That’s some high-level NBA scout stuff there, and that’s not what I do. But after watching him score 28 points (11-for-13 shooting) in 23 minutes against a Kentucky frontcourt featuring multiple future NBA draft picks, after seeing him move in ways a player built like an NFL offensive lineman shouldn’t be able to move, this is what I can tell you: Zion is different, zany, cartoon-like, perhaps the most unique player I’ve ever seen in college basketball. Yeah, that’s a mouthful. But so is this:

He’s 6-7, 285 pounds and has a 45-inch vertical leap. In the entire NBA, there is one player whose listed weight is heavier than Williamson's 285 pounds: 290-pound Boban Marjanovic of the Los Angeles Clippers. And Marjanovic is 7-3 and would play below the rim if he couldn’t touch it flatfooted. Williamson plays above the rim, high above it, looking down into it when he swooped in for a two-handed jam midway through the first half Tuesday night against Kentucky.

About that dunk …

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