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What's impact of Zion Williamson's commitment to Duke?

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Zion Williamson
Zion Williamson (Deana King)

One of the most popular players in the era is off the board and 2018's No. 3 ranked player Zion Williamson made a shocking choice: Duke.

The 6-foot-6, 270 pound forward and one-of-a-kind athlete was expected by many to please local fans by announcing in a Saturday night press conference at Spartanburg (S.C.) Day that he would play for Brad Brownell at Clemson.

But instead, Williamson surprised almost everyone by picking Duke. Williamson joins a recruiting class that already featured the top two players in the country along with the top- ranked point guard in R.J. Barrett, Cameron Reddish and Tre Jones.

Given that they'll likely lose big men Marvin Bagley III and Wendell Carter to the NBA Draft, Williamson can really help them as a hybrid four man. He's strong, he's tough, he's athletic and he's capable of playing much bigger in the post than his listed 6-foot-6'ish size.

The real story, though, is that Mike Krzyzewski and his staff have pulled off one of the all-time recruiting heists by getting the nation's top three players -- and another top 10 prospect -- to agree to play together. Coach K and his staff openly embraced the one-and-done generation a few years ago and that resulted in a 2015 National Championship.

Now, regardless of who stays or goes, the Blue Devils will roll out one of the greatest recruiting classes of all time -- relative to individual class rankings -- a freakishly athletic team and a group that is sure to be one of the favorites to win the title in 2019.

We take a look at how his decision affects other schools.

Whenever a high profile prospect like Williamson makes his choice it means there were a few schools left on the outside looking in. Some of Williamson's finalists knew that they weren't likely to land him, but it's still a good time to look at where Clemson, Kansas, Kentucky, North Carolina and South Carolina could turn. This late in the 2018 recruiting cycle the pickings are pretty slim, though, and five-star E.J. Montgomery is likely going to see his popularity and recruitment swell.

Clemson - Sting Factor: 10

There is no way to sugarcoat how crushing a blow Williamson's pick of Duke is to Brad Brownell, his staff and the Clemson fanbase.

Nobody invested more time and effort into landing Williamson. That, combined with his ties to the Clemson program, proximity to home and the fact that all the buzz leading up to his announcement was that he would stay home, make this a total gut punch.

On the bright side, Brownell and the Tigers are in the midst of their best season in some time and they are still in good position to make a run in the NCAA Tournament. As for trying to replace what they missed in Williamson, some time is going to be needed to regroup and decide what direction to go in.

Kansas - Sting Factor: 2 

Where they go from here: Missing out on Williamson isn't a huge blow for the Jayhawks. Though there was a time when it looked like he may be leaning their direction the Jayhawks and Williamson had drifted apart since his official visit in the fall. Whether or not Billy Preston comes back for a second season (assuming he is ever granted eligibility by the NCAA) could make a big difference here but with transfers K.J. Lawson and Dedric Lawson sitting out along with what they've already got on campus and coming in with their 2018 recruiting class, Kansas should be ok. For a while now they've been putting everything they have into five-star shooting guard Romeo Langford and that should continue to be the case. They've also been poking around at more under-the-radar players like three-star shooting guard Ochai Ogbaji of late.

Kentucky - Sting Factor: 7 

Where they go from here: Maybe a more reasonable question regarding Kentucky is who will be back next season? This doesn't look like a typical Wildcats team in terms of one-and-done guys. Forward Kevin Knox and shooting guard Hamidou Diallo seem very likely to leave for the NBA. Combo guard Shai Alexander may have that option and they have several other wildcards on their roster. In Keldon Johnson and Tyler Herro even more scoring is coming in next season so losing out on Williamson stings much more because of the effort put into landing than him being totally necessary to their success next year. There aren't a lot of legitimate UK level prospects left on the board so unless they wanted to get involved with somebody like an E.J. Montgomery, it's not out of the realm of possibility that John Calipari and his staff could stand pat.

North Carolina - Sting Factor: 6

Where they go from here: On paper, the Tar Heels are out of scholarships but their determined pursuit of Williamson -- especially late -- suggests that they expect at least one to be opening up. They've got a pair of five-stars coming in and both forward Nassir Little and guard Coby White are expected to be instant impact guys as freshman. Still, another athlete who can get in transition and help out on the glass would be ideal for Roy Williams to fill out his roster. But, Williams and the Heels are faced with the same problem plaguing Kentucky in that there just aren't many high level options left on the board. They have dabbled with Montgomery so it wouldn't be a surprise to see them get more involved.

South Carolina - Sting Factor: 5

Where they go from here: While Frank Martin and the Gamecocks put a full effort into recruiting Williamson and were also a local school, there never seemed to be a time where they looked like the team to beat. Likely, they aren't too surprised by missing out on Williamson and they have a bit of a head start on this column's favorite open player E.J. Montgomery. South Carolina has also been aggressive with potential Rivals150 shooting guard Jermaine Couisnard. They were linked to Canadian big man Kaosi Ezeagu during the fall but things seem to have quieted there. Perhaps they could convince somebody like big man Brandon Stone to enroll in 2018 instead of going to prep school?