This is just getting ridiculous.
The man is a freak of nature. Zion Williamson, the freshman forward out of Spartanburg, South Carolina, is listed as 6'7, 285 pounds. College basketball players are typically rather large humans, but that is absurd. A man with that size that can jump like he can is simply unfair. Unlike many guys that impress early in their college career, he is more than just an athletic presence. He played point guard in high school. He can dribble. He can pass. He does not have the most impressive jump shot you have ever seen but it is growing closer to one a defender must respect.
In just under 30 minutes a game, Williamson is close to averaging a double-double, scoring 22.4 points per game and 9.2 rebounds per game. Someone who entered the year with everyone questioning his jump shot has shot just under 30 percent from three. That is definitely not a sharpshooter, but it is good enough to not be someone you can just leave wide open. You have to step up and respect his shot. That is when he can blow by you and make yet another ESPN highlight. His assists per game would not tell you, at only 2.3 per game, but anyone who has watched him play can confirm he is a gifted passer. His court vision and ability to generate offense for his teammates is unquestionably rare. To me, his freakish size and his passing ability are why he is getting LeBron James comparisons.
His skills and size impress NBA scouts and die-hard basketball fans, but his highlights impress even the casual fan. If you have watched ESPN for more than five seconds during this year's basketball season, you have almost assuredly seen a Williamson dunk. Whenever the network recaps the latest Duke game, you cannot tell if you are watching a Duke recap or just a Zion Williamson highlight tape.
All of this to say, this man does not belong in college hoops. He is so obviously ready to play in the NBA. There is no reason he should not be paid NBA-type money for his services at this point in time. ESPN, Duke University, Mike Krzyzewski, and plenty more are all reaping financial gains from Williamson by now, why can't Williamson himself?
This is not an article to discuss college athletes being paid. That is a separate conversation for a separate time. The point of this article is to explain that the claim that guys are not ready to play in the NBA at 18, but are at 19, is ridiculous. Getting guys like Williamson at a blue-blood program like Duke for one year is definitely interesting in many ways, but it would be much better for college basketball, the NBA and players themselves if everyone played in the league they could handle at that point in time. Williamson can obviously handle the NBA at this point in time. No matter how good Coach K is, there is no possible way he is getting better at basketball this year at Duke than he would have in the NBA.
And as far as the "they are not ready for life after college" argument, that is perhaps even more ridiculous. Do the people that argue that claim not understand what freshman year of college consists of? You take classes like "what is the good life?" and "college success." You go home on Thanksgiving Break with a mountain of dirty clothes to bring to your mom because you got too lazy to wash them halfway through October. Not to mention, most importantly, you have zero money. How is that buffer year of college going to teach you how to be smart with money when you didn't actually make any?
I am not claiming that a guy like Williamson, straight out of high school, would have been ready for everything the NBA and life would have thrown at him had he been able to go straight to the NBA draft. I am simply saying that to believe his one buffer year at Duke makes some huge difference in how he prepared he is doesn't make any sense.
Let the man go straight to the association and get paid for his services. He deserves it. And he is as ready as he will ever be.