Roy Williams gushes over Zion Williamson: 'In the college game, I've never seen it'

Jason Owens

Roy Williams knows Zion Williamson well.

The North Carolina coach lost a recruiting battle to rival Mike Krzyzewski last year when Williamson chose to attend Duke over UNC, Clemson and Kentucky.

Since he stepped foot in Cameron Indoor Stadium for the first time, the only question raised about Williamson’s game is how he wasn’t rated the No. 1 recruit in the country over teammates R.J. Barrett and Cam Reddish.

He’s drawn LeBron James comparisons and taken over the basketball world in becoming the unquestioned No. 1 pick in the upcoming NBA draft.

Williams effusive in praise of Zion ahead of Duke-UNC

But before he sees lottery riches, Williamson has at least a pair of matchups ahead of him in the storied Duke-UNC rivalry with the two programs facing off for the first time this season on Wednesday.

When reporters asked Williams about his thoughts on Williamson Monday, he did not hold back praise just because the phenom chose to join the Blue Devils.

“Name somebody else that’s got that skill set he has,” Williams said. “Because in the college game, I’ve never seen it. Everybody will say ‘well, what about LeBron?’ Listen to what I said. LeBron never played in college. But I’ve never seen anything like that.”

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Despite being the No. 3 recruit in his class, Williamson was No. 1 in hype with a massive social media following thanks to his highlight-reel theatrics.

Williamson has somehow exceeded that hype during his freshman stint in Durham, a fact that hasn’t slipped past Williams.

Williams: Skill set ‘I’ve never seen before’

“Zion’s a different bird,” Williams said. “There’s no question about that. We tried to recruit him very very hard. He’s got a combination of skill set that I’ve never seen before.

“There is a lot of attention. But he deserves it. I mean, he’s backed it up. He’s been pretty good.”

Is a starring role in a Duke-Carolina classic the next chapter in Zion Williamson’s basketball story? (Getty)
Is a starring role in a Duke-Carolina classic the next chapter in Zion Williamson’s basketball story? (Getty)

Duke-UNC on Wednesday has makings of another classic

When Duke and UNC tip off on Wednesday, the attention will rightfully be on Williamson and the Blue Devils, who are the favorite to cut down the nets in Minneapolis.

But as Duke has sucked most of the oxygen out of the college basketball room this season, North Carolina has chugged along in the shadow as a typical veteran-laden Williams squad that’s worked its way into the top 10 and is poised for a high seed with Final Four aspirations of its own.

How good is UNC?

UNC has a pair of highly rated freshmen in athletic scoring point guard Coby White and Nassir Little, who is still projected as a lottery pick despite not getting off of Williams’ bench. Along with veterans Luke Maye, Kenny Williams and Cam Johnson, the Tar Heels have the talent and experience to compete with anybody, Duke included.

Duke and North Carolina are almost always relevant and almost always deliver when they meet on the court, the strongest argument for the rivalry’s case as the best in American sports.

Wednesday’s matchup at Cameron Indoor has the promise to be the next great chapter in the rivalry’s lore. Williamson’s checked off every box this season on his basketball path.

A starring role in a Duke-Carolina classic could be next.

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