BROOKLYN, N.Y. — Fresh off his win Friday in the Elite 24 dunk contest, Zion Williamson closed out warmups before Saturday’s game by reprising his spectacular between the legs contest-winning slam. He executed flawlessly, and got the crowd at Brooklyn Bridge Park buzzing.
That’s not unusual these days. Lately, Zion Williamson just seems to generate buzz wherever he goes.
Williamson turned in a superb performance Saturday, helping lead Team Drive to a 140-134 overtime victory in the Elite 24 game against Team Clutch, the first time in the game’s 11-year history that overtime was needed.
The Spartanburg (S.C.) Day School product put up 23 points and went 10-for-10 from the floor en route to a share of the MVP honors.
The terrific shooting night is not an aberration, according to Williamson. His game is designed to create high-percentage shots.
“My open floor game and attacking the basket is what I excel at the most,” he said.
And he’s been excelling quite a bit recently. It’s been a big summer for Williamson, whose stock has skyrocketed.
In mid-June, he was No. 19 in the 247Sports.com composite rankings of the 2018 Class. Now, he’s No. 6. He’s also the No. 4 small forward in the Class of 2018 by ESPN.com, and has been drawing interest from many of the big boys — with Kansas and Indiana the latest to reach out, Williamson said after the game Saturday. Expect him to rise again in the rankings when ESPN.com releases its latest lists this week.
The junior-to-be is cognizant of all the fanfare, but says it hasn’t impacted his game.
“(The attention) doesn’t affect me at all,” Williamson said. “I was once underrated. I had a point to prove. So I feel like I always have something to prove.”
This week, he undoubtedly proved something to guys he’s likely to be competing against at the next level. And indeed, Williamson said that what he enjoyed most about the Elite 24 was the opportunity to play with, and gain knowledge from, several top Class of 2017 stars.
“I got a lot of experience,” Williamson said. “I had the pleasure of playing with Trey (Duval) and Hamadou Diallo. And I learned a lot from them.”
As for what he’s working on going into this season, the 6-7 wing is looking to increase his shooting range.
“I’m trying to develop a 3-point shot,” Williamson said. “Because when I get to college, I’m probably going to be a two or a three. So I need to be able to shoot the 3.”