Why 5-star Zion Williamson would fit better at Clemson than Kentucky, Kansas, or Duke
The nation's No. 3 player will commit Saturday and here's his impact on each of his finalists
The nation's top uncommitted prospect, Zion Williamson, will end his long and winding recruitment process on Saturday at approximately 8 p.m.
The five-star forward from Spartanburg Day School in South Carolina, ranked as the No. 3 overall player in the Class of 2018, will pick his college destination between Clemson, Duke, Kansas, Kentucky, North Carolina and South Carolina.
So what school will it be for Mr. Highlight Reel himself? The in-state Clemson Tigers lead the way in the 247Sports Crystal Ball as the clock ticks closer to midnight. But he's remained firm in the fact that he is still undecided, and genuinely torn, between his finalists on the decision.
One small detail to keep in mind that may, or may not, alter his final decision: at 6-foot-6, Williamson played most of his high school career as a dominant, over-powering power forward. But in college, it's unclear if he'll move to the wing, evolve into a hybrid stretch-four of sorts, or continue to play down low and use his elite physical tools and strength in the post.
Williamson is a can't-miss prospect, so finding the right (or wrong) fit won't hamstring him completely. But finding the right situation has been a hot button topic for him more so than many five-stars, simply because the position he's played in high school might not be the one he plays full time in college.
So with that in mind, what might his commitment mean for each of his six finalists? Let's take a deep dive based off current and projected rosters, determine where he might find the best fit and what impact he might have as a potential one-and-done.
Not only has Brad Brownell's Clemson team been one of the biggest surprises of the ACC this season, the 15-3 Tigers might be on their way to pulling off the biggest surprise of the 2018 recruiting cycle.
Clemson's the frontrunner to win out in the Williamson sweepstakes -- a decision that would keep him within the state of South Carolina and give him a chance to play at his stepfather's alma mater. With the Tigers' 2018 class ranked 46th nationally with three-star commitments at both small and power forward, Williamson would still undeniably be the crown jewel of their class by a wide margin. He can be plug and play wherever Brownell wants, and could be a fitting replacement for senior Donte Grantham at power forward, or even a replacement for Gabe DeVoe at the wing.
South Carolina's got a nice supporting cast that would be conducive to WIlliamson producing and competing at a high level the moment he steps on campus. Chris Silva's a blossoming junior forward, Justin Minaya is a promising freshman, and Felipe Haase and Evan Hinson are both building blocks that could be an easy sales pitch for Frank Martin.
What's not promising, however, is that South Carolina made it to the Final Four less than a year ago and has yet to land a commitment for the Class of 2018. So while Williamson would absolutely be the crown jewel of the class, he'd technically be the only jewel in the class.
Perhaps the recent signing of former five-star Brian Bowen might give him reason to believe the future is bright, but even Bowen's future with the NCAA remains uncertain.
Zion Williamson would be the missing piece for a Kansas recruiting class that's set at point guard, shooting guard and center. Williamson could slip in as a rotation player right away as a natural fit at the power forward position in Bill Self's system.
Even more enticing: Self has had great success playing small ball and featuring guard-heavy lineups in the offense, which would give Williamson freedom to potentially play power forward, or even center, in ultra small lineups. And if KU wanted to go big, he could potentially slide out to the wing or be the power forward as part of a 1-2 punch in the post alongside Silvio De Sousa and Udoka Azubuike in 2018.
The downside for Williamson, however: Memphis transfers Dedric and K.J. Lawson will be eligible in 2018, and both are potentially options who could squeeze him out of playing time at Kansas.
UNC has a top 10 class after the cloud that was the academic fraud scandal passed earlier this season. And with two five-stars in Nassir Little and Coby White pledged to play for Roy Williams already, you'd have to think that class would be enticing for a top 3 player looking to compete at the highest level.
However ... with two commitments at small forward in Little and Rechon Black, Williamson would most likely be relegated to the post position. And with Little's talent at small forward, he'd almost assuredly have to split time with him on the wing.
That potential scenario is one I wouldn't envision being make-or-break for Williamson -- I still think his future coach will feature him in the post more so than not -- but simply put, I just don't think UNC is a likely destination.
You've heard of the saying, "The rich get richer and the poor get poorer," right? Well Williamson's commitment to Duke would essentially be the equivalent of a millionaire winning the lottery three times in the same year.
The Blue Devils have the No. 2 class in the country, including commitments from the top two players in 2018: R.J. Barrett and Cam Reddish. So Williamson, the No. 3 player in the class, would give Duke its most top-heavy recruiting class ever.
The problem is, Williamson's a 6-6 forward -- so if he's going to play small forward in college, there's an absolute logjam at the position as Duke already has commitments from small forwards Reddish and Barrett. So putting all three on the court at the same time would be a next-to-impossible challenge for Mike Krzyzewski.
Even if Williamson were to play power forward in college as some suspect he might, Duke still might not be the place he'd want — simply because starring alongside two projected lottery picks who've already committed is far from a sure thing. But Duke's current roster down low with Javin DeLaurier, Justin Robinson and Jack White makes for a scenario in which he could be a starter right away at the power forward spot, with the assumption here being that Marvin Bagley moves on to the NBA after this season.
A Kentucky commitment for Williamson would give the Wildcats their lone commitment from a player who is not a listed guard.
Unlike your typical John Calipari recruiting class, this class may not be required to replace the starting five. Freshman Kevin Knox is probably a lottery pick, and if I were betting I'd say the same might be true for Hamidou Diallo -- both players who he would likely split time with if they stayed.
The book might still be out on P.J. Washington, Wenyen Gabriel, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and some of the other Kentucky talents who could easily return next season. And with no clarity on if a big bunch are staying or going, my money would be that the logjam of uncertainty at his future position pushes Williamson elsewhere.
Villanova, which is expected to lose four starters, is No. 7.
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