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.