Basketball Recruiting - Rival Views: The best Zion Williamson comparison
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Rival Views: The best Zion Williamson comparison

Zion Williamson
Zion Williamson (Bob Blanchard/Basketball Hall of Fame)

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On Saturday, 2018's No. 3 player Zion Williamson will decide between Clemson, Duke, Kansas, Kentucky, North Carolina and South Carolina during an evening press conference at Spartanburg (S.C.) Country Day. The 6-foot-7, 270 pounder is one of the most unique players we've ever covered at and he's been compared to a wide range of players. national basketball analysts Eric Bossi and Corey Evans have settled in on their comparisons and as usual they have Rival views.

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Since seeing Williamson for the first time between his freshman and sophomore years of high school, I've been all over the map with comparisons. I started with Larry Johnson, moved on to a smaller Julius Randle, Rodney Rogers, Charles Barkley and a few others in between. But after seeing Williamson play again last weekend, I think my first ever comparison is still the best.

Like Williamson, Johnson was a physical freak of nature. Like Johnson was early in his career, Williamson is currently most comfortable playing with his back to the basket in a halfcourt set or finishing well above it in transition. They both have strong hands, rebound at a high rate and have really good footwork and a nice variety of post moves on the low block.

When I first thought about comparing Williamson to Johnson, I thought to myself, he just doesn't shoot it like "Grand-ma-ma" did in his prime. But after some thought, Johnson didn't have a great jump shot during his days at UNLV or early in his NBA career. It was with hard work and repetition that he turned into a good jump shooter and watching Williamson, his mechanics are fine. He just needs repetition.

The bottom line is that Williamson is truly one of the most unique and difficult to compare players that I've ever seen in nearly 20 years in the business. But, when push comes to shove I think succeeding in a way similar to Larry Johnson's isn't out of the question.


The best comparison for Williamson is arguably the greatest pound-for-pound rebounder to ever play in the NBA, Charles Barkley.

Barkley created his own style of ballplayer. At Auburn, Barkley led the SEC in rebounding each of the three years that he was on campus. There were questions about his weight, just like there are about Williamson, and how his height, at 6-foot-6 on a good day, could fair at the NBA level.

Not only did Barkley answer these questions, but he became even more dominant. The Round Mound of Rebound went on to have his jersey retired by two separate NBA franchises and, in 2006, was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame. Can Williamson follow a similar path?

Those are high marks to meet, but Williamson, just like Barkley, has been picked apart by critics for his lack of size, his inability to make shots and how his game might translate to the next level. Williamson will never fit a cookie-cutter frontcourt mold compared to the new age forward, but he is someone that has seemingly dominated at every turn.