CARTERSVILLE, Ga. – Zion Williamson hasn’t suited up for one game in the adidas Gauntlet this weekend, but, by far, he’s had the biggest draw of any player in attendance.
Fans, young and old, lined the court at his games hoping to catch a glimpse of SC Supreme’s 6-foot-8 forward, who most had only seen from his highlights clips, which amassed well over 10 million views this high school season.
They stayed even after they saw him parked on the bench in street clothes in hopes of slapping a hi-five or snapping a pic after his team played.
“It’s crazy, I’m still not all the way used to it,” said Williamson, who is sitting out for the next month nursing a bruised knee. “I wanted to play, but it’d be better for me to rest it. It’s cool that the fans still come out to support. Like I said though, all of this is still crazy to me.”
It’s easier to understand once you lay out the whole picture: Williamson’s one-man, in-game dunk contest shows landed him in the Sportscenter Top 10 multiple times, he’s got more than 628,000 followers on Instagram, which is more than the top 15 players in his class combined, and more than 56,000 followers on Twitter. He’s also text buddies with rappers Quavo and Drake, who famously sported Williamson’s Spartanburg Day School jersey and posted it on Instagram.
“It all still shocks me,” said Williamson’s mother Sharonda Sampson. “When we got here for our morning game there there was a group of kids waiting on him. They were so excited to see him. It’s amazing to me, but I enjoy seeing him make them happy because that makes him happy too.”
Williamson was the only underclassman named to the American Family Insurance ALL-USA Boys Basketball First Team after posting 36.8 points and 13 rebounds a game to lead Spartanburg Day to its second consecutive independent schools association Class 2A state title in March.
He said the fan interactions range from really innocent to, sometimes, really awkward.
“We were walking to the car and I noticed this man just staring at me the whole time,” Williamson said. “He waited until we got all the way to the car and asked for a pic. That was kinda funny. But I don’t mind it; I still think it’s fun. I think I’m getting to the point where it’s becoming normal. I still enjoy it all.”
Follow Jason Jordan on Twitter: @JayJayUSATODAY