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After Clemson, Zion Mania Is Hitting A New Level

This is only getting started and won’t peak any time soon.

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Ameritas Insurance Classic: Texas Tech v Duke
NEW YORK, NY - DECEMBER 20: Zion Williamson #1 of the Duke Blue Devils dunks the ball during the first half of the game against Texas Tech Red Raiders during the Ameritas Insurance Classic at Madison Square Garden on December 20, 2018 in New York City.
Photo by Sarah Stier/Getty Images

When Clemson turned the ball over against Duke Saturday and Zion Williamson was heading towards the basket by his lonesome, you could almost feel the entire gym hold its breath: what was he going to do?

It’s funny to consider what could be running through his mind at that point. What are my options? Should I do a windmill? A reverse? Nah....A 360!

Which is what he did, probably minus the decision making. Our guess is he just went with exuberance and exuberance said spin, so he did (update: here’s what he thought: “It just comes naturally. It was the last-second (decision). I’m like wide-open, why not?”).

It’s caused another Zion mania moment. ESPN has been pushing him relentlessly, which is understandable. He’s sensational.

The thing is, once you get past the’s still really cool.

He’s had several defining plays this year. The surreal block and assist at Kentucky, the dunk against Eastern Michigan where his head was above the rim, the chase down’s all been amazing to watch.

Duke fans can talk about Christian Laettner’s shot against Kentucky, Grant Hill’s dunk against Kansas, Brian Zoubek’s brilliance against Butler in the final minute of the 2010 national championship game, Gone in 56 seconds and Battier’s fingernail tip-in against Arizona.

It’s all been wonderful to be a part of.

We can’t help but feel like we’re seeing something different though. Even his teammates see it. We used this picture Saturday because it illustrated that. Williamson and teammate RJ Barrett are generally seen as the top two picks in this summer’s draft. But look at how excited Barrett is by Williamson’s move. How cool is that?

Not that cool, according to Williamson, who said it was only a 7 or 8.

He may be imagining things we can’t; who knows? But watching this stuff happen is as good as anyone we’ve seen come through the conference. It’s spectacular.

As fun as it is though, the nicest thing is that everyone obviously likes him. His teammates all seem to enjoy being on the same team with him, kids swarm to him and he seems genuine and easy to like.

He has some time left in his brief Duke career, but it’s not too early to say this: Williamson is a marketer’s dream.

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