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Sports Illustrated Names Duke’s Zion Williamson, RJ Barrett All-Americans

A well-deserved honor for both.

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Georgia Tech v Duke
DURHAM, NORTH CAROLINA - JANUARY 26: Teammates Zion Williamson #1 and RJ Barrett #5 of the Duke Blue Devils battle for a loose ball against Abdoulaye Gueye #34 of the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets during their game at Cameron Indoor Stadium on January 26, 2019 in Durham, North Carolina.
Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

Sports Illustrated released its All-America teams Wednesday morning and Duke’s Zion Williamson made first team while RJ Barrett made second.

SI said this about Williamson: “To get a sense of just how dominant Williamson has been on offense, consider that his offensive rating of 129.7 leads all players used on at least 28% of possessions, per kenpom, with the next-closest player checking in at 124.8.”

And about Barrett: “Barrett has been overshadowed at times this season by the legend of Zion, but he’s had no problem taking up the mantle as opponents’ biggest focus in his star teammate’s absence. The former No. 1 recruit in the 2018 class averaged 26.2 points in the six games Williamson missed and is averaging 23.4 points, 7.5 points and 4.2 rebounds on the year, putting together a heck of a freshman season in his own right.“

The cool thing about these two guys, and Duke in general, is that the chemistry is so good. There’s no tension or jealousy. They just all seem to like each other.

In our opinion, a lot of this is down to Williamson. He’s spectacularly gifted but also wants to be part of things and to include other people.

At Duke he’s made it a point to sit next to walk-on Mike Buckmire when the media talks to him and to include him in the give and take.

It’s nothing new.

In high school, as we mentioned the other day, Williamson had some AAU obligations and wasn’t able to participate in something with his high school team. He showed up though and was handing water to his teammates.

For all his talents, the one that never gets enough attention or praise is his ability to build team chemistry. People love being on his team. How many guys do you hear that about?

Virginia’s De’Andre Hunter and Ty Jerome made SI’s third team.

For both guys, that’s pretty good but we’re amazed at how under appreciated Jerome is. When you look at him you see a skinny guy who, until this year, looked like a high school junior.


That hides the competitive heart of an assassin.

Jerome is ruthlessly competitive. In fact, when we see him we see a little bit of Christian Laettner’s arrogance and we mean that as a compliment. Jerome is just tremendously competitive.

He and Virginia had a major fail last spring against UMBC but as we’ve said all year, that is going to fuel this team in the post-season. It’s possible that a fear of failure could lead them to another stumble this spring, that someone like, oh, Wofford or Belmont just kills it from three point range and the Wahoos lose their composure and choke.

We really don’t expect that to happen though and Jerome, along with his backcourt mate Travis Guy, are the key reasons why.

Jerome is an absolute cutthroat.

Come to think of it, a better comparison than Laettner might be former Maryland guard Steve Blake.

Like Blake, Jerome competes and is a winner.

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