Duke Basketball: Season preview for freshman forward Zion Williamson

(Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
(Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images) /

It’s true that Ball Durham has already posted several hype pieces about Zion Williamson, but no sane argument can be made against the Duke basketball freshman deserving one more before the season starts.

Fittingly, his first name spelled backward is Noiz. Yes, the game of the Duke basketball team’s freshman YouTube sensation is loud.

But while Zion Williamson’s performances often include thunderous dunks that spark roars from Cameron Crazies and chatter across all forms of media — they are also likely to dampen the spirits of more than a few of the Blue Devils’ opponents this season, as was the case in the team’s 132-48 exhibition win over Ferris State — don’t overlook his other skills.

The 6-foot-7, 285-pound southpaw forward — one of four five-star freshmen expected to start when the season begins Tuesday at 9:30 p.m. against Kentucky in the Champions Classic in Indianapolis — has court vision.

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And speed. Strong handles. An already sufficient outside shot that may just need a tweak or two. A rear-end specifically designed for boxing out. Biceps that could headline any gun show. The instincts and willingness to disrupt the flow of opposing offenses.

Best of all, though, the Spartanburg, S.C., native is a jolly giant.

His teammates are sure to draw positive vibes from his demeanor when he is on the court, where he is likely to be for nearly every minute of any game that does not quickly become a blowout.

Basketball is just a game, after all. And that seems to be how Williamson views it. Like a kid on a playground. With a natural and infectious smile.

Beyond infusing the rest of the squad with jolts of energy, his positive personality and high-flying plays are likely to translate into some lofty numbers next to his name on box scores. But how many statistical categories is he likely to lead?

Points? It’s possible, yet fellow freshman R.J. Barrett, expected to be one of the program’s all-time gifted scorers, is going to be tough to top.

Rebounds? It’s probable, but junior big men Marques Bolden and Javin DeLaurier might have something to say about that.

Blocks? Whether or not he ends up with the most — Bolden and DeLaurier will again be in the running — Williamson’s swat-parties will act as an experiment to see if it is possible to pop a ball during a game.

Steals? Again, it’s possible, though freshman point guard Tre Jones is the most likely candidate to lead in this column.

Assists? No chance he bests Jones, but his keen eye and crisp passing could lead to him finish as high as second on the squad.

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Grins and noise levels from Cameron Crazies resulting from his many flights and highlights? While these tallies don’t show up on the box score, if they did, there’s no question Williamson would quickly become the record-holder.