Zion Williamson is certain that, by and large, people have the reason behind his ascent from unknown to one of the best and easily the most famous high school basketball player in recent memory confused.
“They think it’s because of my dunks,” said Williamson, who recently graduated from Spartanburg Day (S.C.) and will suit up for Duke next season. “But it’s not. It was the work. I put in wooork to get to where I’m at. That’s the part that people miss.”
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Still, don’t get Williamson wrong, he’s well aware that the exposure from his multi-million viewed highlight videos led to countless appearances on Sportscenter’s Top 10 plays which led to friendships with hip-hop superstars like Drake and Quavo which led to his 1.5 million followers on Instagram.
“This is how I look at it,” Williamson said. “The highlight videos brought all the fame and accolades, but my work brought all the highlight videos. That’s the part that people miss.”
Therein lies the issue for Williamson; he’s well aware that younger players will try and emulate his trajectory by operating under the assumption that if they can make enough highlights every game they too will go viral.
“That’s not how it works,” Williamson said. “When that’s your goal, it doesn’t work. Aside from winning, my goal every game was just to be aggressive, do the moves I work on every day and outwork everyone. Highlight videos didn’t get me ranked top two, showcasing my skills and working hard on those skills did.”
To drive home that point, Williamson pointed to the length of his highlight videos which cover an entire season or even a few games.
“They’re about three minutes long, but we played 30-plus games,” Williamson said. “Trust me they don’t show everything. When I was scoring 40 and 50 points in the game, it wasn’t all off highlights. I had to have skill to get to the basket and score most of the time. For the guys coming up, focus on honing your craft, playing with a motor and outworking everyone and the highlights will come. Just not before the hard work.”
Follow Jason Jordan on Twitter: @JayJayUSATODAY