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Zion Williamson Wins Tisdale Award

And that’s a pretty big deal

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UCF v Duke
COLUMBIA, SOUTH CAROLINA - MARCH 24: Tacko Fall #24 of the UCF Knights defends against Zion Williamson #1 of the Duke Blue Devils in the second round game of the 2019 NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament at Colonial Life Arena on March 24, 2019 in Columbia, South Carolina.
Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

Congratulations to Duke freshman Zion Williamson who, not surprisingly, won the Wayman Tisdale Award as National Freshman Player of the Year.

In its lede, hilariously put it this way, describing Williamson as “the nation’s only player to average at least 20 points and shoot at least 65 percent from the field.“

He might be the only freshman to ever do that. During his time at UCLA, as great and dominant as he was, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar shot 63.9 percent for his career. At UCF this year, mostly on dunks, 7-6 Tacko Fall managed 74.8.

Those kinds of numbers are mostly for big men though (though not Wilt Chamberlain: the legendary big man shot just 47 percent in his two years at Kansas).

For a 6-7 kid to do that as a freshman, in a day when the game has evolved to the point where it has, beggars belief. It’s a phenomenal accomplishment.

By the way, for those of you who don’t know, Tisdale was a great forward at Oklahoma who had a successful pro career.

However he retired arguably early to focus on his true love, music.

Tisdale was a superb bass guitarist. You can find his work on Apple Music and YouTube. It’s no joke to say that he was one of the best bass players alive and how many guys get to be elite in two fields?

You wonder if he looked at the mangled finger Larry Bird’s shooting hand (he shattered it in a softball game and always said he never shot well again if you can imagine that) and realized that basketball posed an existential threat to his music career.

As it turned out, Tisdale’s health was his greatest foe. He was diagnosed with cancer in his knee and had his leg amputated. However the doctors were uncertain of how to administer chemo to a guy his size and while he had a good prognosis, his esophagus unexpectedly erupted, a tragic side effect of the radiation treatment he endured.

His music is the real deal. He was just 44 and had a lifetime left to burnish his talent. On a side note, he had large hands anyway and as a bass player, that must have been a huge asset, no pun intended.

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