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Even Zion Williamson’s future Duke teammates were shocked when he picked the Blue Devils


It doesn’t feel like an exaggeration to say that Zion Williamson had one of the most memorable college commitments in years. Considering that he is arguably the most hyped high school prospect since LeBron James and considering that even the most plugged-in recruiting experts were in the dark on what college he was going to pick, everyone knew that Williamson’s commitment decision was going to be bonkers.

And that was before he shocked the world, pulled out a Duke hat and announced he’d be headed to Durham to play for Coach K (sorry for the reminder). Not only was Williamson a heavy Clemson lean with Kentucky lurking in the background, but it also meant that Duke had wrapped up a stunning recruiting haul that included the top three players in the country. In addition to Williamson, No. 1 prospect R.J. Barrett and No. 2 prospect Cam Reddish were headed to Duke (as well as point guard Tre Jones), giving the Blue Devils a clean sweep of the top three players in America.

Again, sorry for the reminder, but for any fan that felt deceived by Williamson’s decision don’t be – he shocked everyone. Including one of his future teammates.

That’s because on Thursday, KSR spoke to Reddish about Williamson’s commitment at the Nike Hoops Summit. And while Reddish – the first of those top three players to commit – always believed that Barrett would be a Blue Devil, he was in the dark on Williamson. Just like everyone else.

“R.J. was easy,” Reddish said of selling his future teammates to come to Duke. “It was Zion. Zion was the pain. R.J. was pretty simple. I think R.J. wanted to come in the first place, it wasn’t that difficult, he was like ‘alright, let’s do it.’ And then after we got R.J., we went and got Zion. Zion was a different beast.”

As Barrett explains it, the three players (Williamson, Reddish and Barrett) were all in a group snap chat with Jones and corresponded regularly. But as Williamson’s decision date grew near he stopped responding.

It led Reddish to believe that Williamson was going somewhere else.

“We had been snapchatting the entire time, and he hadn’t replied,” Reddish said, with Jones nearby nodding in agreement. “He didn’t open it and stuff and we’re like ‘Oh, snap, he’s not coming.’”

Therefore by the time that Williamson’s decision came, Reddish had lost hope. He said that he had actually played a high school game of his own that evening, and on a whim decided to pull up Williamson’s announcement in the car on the way home from his game. He didn’t expect Williamson to commit to Duke but wanted to see where he was going anyway.

“I was watching it on the way home from my game on my cell phone,” Reddish said. “I just started screaming. I was like ‘Oh, snap.’ I was surprised. I didn’t think he was going to come.”

In the end, it remains to be seen how Williamson, Reddish and Barrett will all co-exist together next year at Duke.

But at the same time, don’t feel deceived: Zion’s future teammates were just as shocked by his commitment as you were.

Article written by Aaron Torres

Aaron Torres is covering football and basketball for KSR this season after four years at Fox Sports. Follow him on Twitter @Aaron_Torres, Facebook or e-mail at ATorres00@gmail.com. He is also the author of the only book written on the Calipari era, “One and Fun: A Behind the Scenes Look at John Calipari and the 2010 Kentucky Wildcats.”

32 responses to “Even Zion Williamson’s future Duke teammates were shocked when he picked the Blue Devils”

  1. christopherharrison26

    Who cares. Don’t waste my time.

    1. Blublood41

      That’s what I was thinking. Guy picked Duke, move on.

    2. JoeMoney333

      He said, taking the time to comment.

    3. Cletis75

      Duck Fuke!

  2. david8577

    Kids still say “oh snap”?

    1. Sentient Third Eye

      That alone makes me kind of glad we didn’t get that kid.

  3. StuckinLville

    Agree #1, who cares? Jeff Capel paid him (because we know he got in trouble for this before at OU) and now Capel is gone. Remember, Williamson has not signed. Also, Coach K won’t be able to get next years team to the final four. They are a very young team and Coach K hasn’t excelled with young teams. Their last title team had a mix of veterans.

    1. Jiminy Crickets

      While I think there’s a chance they’re really young, the only NBA departure so far is bagley, and the tripper graduated. If for some reason wendal carter, and their starting back court returns, plus the 4 guys they brought in, they could be crazy good.

      Now with that said, Zion was never leaving the SE coast. When he announced he said he chose Duke over Clemson and UNC, no mention of UK.

      I hope this doesn’t become another tre young thing where we get tons of articles about what coulda been

    2. FlatTopsAndBlockedShots

      Actually Jiminy, there’s three freshmen from last year’s team who have declared, Bagley, Duval, and Trent. Carter being the only one who hasn’t made a decision yet.

    3. StuckinLville

      Exactly, plus Disgrayson will be gone. They will end up as young as our team this year.

  4. Catuary

    I stopped caring about ZW months ago.

  5. jbrockman50

    Yeah i think we have had enough articles about Zion and time to move on.

  6. katfan33

    Who gives a sh!t. Slow day, huh? Reporting on Duke kids, well done KSR.

  7. Catcasey1

    Who fn Cares. Move on

  8. FlatTopsAndBlockedShots

    RJ going to dook was harder to take than Zion to dook even though it really started to look like RJ was dook bound once October came around. If RJ had waited until the spring to commit, after seeing his good friend (and family friend) Shai Gilgeous-Alexander have a stellar season RJ would’ve been a Wildcat.

    1. a21CATSfan

      Him being the best Canadian player probably since Steve Nash is what hurt about Barrett. Calipari has had a tremendous pipeline from the North (with A LOT of success), so losing that kind of player sucked. And dUKe stealing another recruiting tactic from Coach Cal.

  9. catsarerunnin

    Zion who??

  10. ukwildcat1991

    Omg… we are still talking about this?

  11. lbaker0050

    What does any of this have to do with Kentucky Basketball??!!! Who cares at this juncture?!!!

  12. kentuckybackupplayer

    I am waiting for the Zion Williamson has a bowel movement article tonight.

    1. FlatTopsAndBlockedShots

      Check the January archives for when he took a dookie, I mean became a dookie.

  13. JTHinton

    Why is this on KSR

  14. UKLugo

    The writing was on the wall. All you had to do was pay attention. His mom had a big influence. He wanted a blue blood but was going to stay close to home for mom. It was Duke all the way. The only shocker would’ve been had he picked Clemson.

  15. Catlogic15

    ZW can dunk, who can’t, but he looked very ordinary in the McD game. Ball handling skills suspect.

  16. 57nukeduke

    Not picking Big Blue is ZW’s loss, good riddance we will crush him like a bug.

  17. runningunnin.454

    Y’all think this is bad; my interactive TV guide for the Nike Hoop Summit says,
    “U.S vs World HS showcase featuring three Duke commits”.
    Excuse me, but sonofabitch.

  18. Smyrna_Cat

    Why are we still talking about the Dukie?

  19. catsarerunnin

    Zion who?

  20. chris43

    Who in the H{LL cares about Zion? He plays for Duke! Will he dominate D1 as he did the HS ranks? I highly doubt it unless he develops a shot.

  21. wyatts1

    I wish KSR had some competition, in the regards to reporting on UK basketball. I’ve been on the fence for awhile due to some ignorant pollitics being posted, but now KSR is re-living a puke recruit and his decision?? WTF!!!

  22. truebluefootballfan

    I agree…. please move on. Sometimes I think they (KSR) slip up and hire trolls.

  23. W.C.

    I hope Reddish wasn’t driving while watching that announcement on the way home. It would be sad if your phone is the last thing you see.