What does Zion Williamson’s commitment mean to the rest of college basketball?
With arguably one of the best incoming classes of freshmen on the horizon, the biggest catalyst of hype has made his college decision. Number one recruit Zion Williamson will be in a Duke uniform for next season, and for many this shouldn’t come as a surprise. That being said, what does Zion’s decision potentially mean for other top programs in the land? More importantly, what does it mean for the future of college basketball?
Let’s first start with the message this sends to a Kentucky program that has been on the fence of mediocrity this season. The Wildcats used to be the sure choice for the nation’s top one-and-done player. Coach John Calipari always seems to have the best track record for getting blue chip players ready for the NBA, and even implements a financial investment plan for his players once they sign with a pro team. I believe Duke landing a prospect like Williamson speaks volumes to the type of recruits Coach K. has been able to bring in over the past few years.
Duke used to rely on two-to-four year players like J.J. Reddick, Lance Thomas, Kyle Singler and the Plumlee brothers. Over the past few seasons, however, the Blue Devils have landed players such as Jalil Okafor, Brandon Ingram, Marvin Bagley, and now Zion Williamson. All these names have been ranked as the undisputed top dog, and potential for and NBA number one pick a year later.
So I guess the question is- has Coach Cal lost his edge with top one and done prospects? Or are programs like Duke, Kansas, UCLA and UNC just catching up to art of building a championship team around freshmen?
Secondly, I believe this speaks to the prestige of ACC basketball, especially during this current season. As of now, the Big 12 has dominated the top-25 rankings, and deservedly so. In a conference with five teams many believe could win it all each year, Zion still chose the relationship to Coach K. and ACC basketball.
Of course, another vital aspect that played a determining role for Zion is location to the school. Williamson, who is from Spartanburg, South Carolina, will now be playing only three-to-four hours away by car from family and friends. That being said, Zion’s decision has been one of the many decisions we have seen, that proves the future of college basketball will be full of parody.
To look at things comparatively, college football has witnessed over a decade of debates as to which conference has the closest level of play to the SEC. This argument precisely proclaims the SEC as the undisputed dominant conference, with the most likely number one team in the country year in and year out.
In college basketball, however, every year has been a completely new chapter. It was only a few seasons back the Big East was a shell of its former self. Now Big East basketball is putting the final steps towards once again arguing themselves at the top of college basketball. The surge the Big12 has made over the last three years has been simply remarkable. We have also seen a Pac 12 conference that was debated as top conference in the nation only two years ago.
The more college basketball moves towards accepting their top player is probably leaving for the NBA after one year, the more opportunity for a different champion each year. We must respect the job Coach Calipari has done to put this ball in motion, as men’s basketball continues to be one of the top collegiate sports for competitive parody and continued surprises.