Most Popular VS Most Talented
The High-School Human Highlight Reel, Zion Williamson, made the internet erupt Tuesday night. He went viral catching another body in the South Carolina Independent School Association Class 2A quarterfinals. His victim, another terrified, helpless, Caucasian boy, who couldn't even turtle his way out of this one. Before making a poster of a child that may or may not have PTSD every time he hits the hardwood now, video footage below will show you Zion's equally frightening defensive abilities, and why he sits at #2 for the ESPN class of 2018 rankings.
Those 20 seconds you just witnessed probably get the average basketball fan thinking "Who TF is first?!"
Well, the future college teammate of Zion and future of Canada Basketball, RJ Barret, is the unanimously #1 ranked player on all scouting services. However, Zion is without a doubt the most popular player in this class. In this generation of social media, he has successfully built his high-school career going viral by posterizing teens that look like they play more rpg games than basketball.
His opponents look like they are from my intramural team back in high school (albeit we won). Don't get me wrong, Zion is built like a linebacker and is a freak of nature with out of this world athleticism. But playing in a less competitive division out of South Carolina will allow you to pull these never before seen dunks at the high school level. However, Barret excels in a division that is prestigious for sending basketball players to the NBA and the competition may not allow dunks that look like they are from Space Jam. This is primarily why Zion has been stealing headlines all year and RJ has been an afterthought.
He is human and he is second to RJ Barret for many reasons, but ultimately, because he is no where near as versatile. RJ can play 4 out of 5 positions oppose to Zion who can play 2 at most. To further add to this argument, RJ was MVP of the u19 World Championships this past summer where Canada won gold. Barret accomplished this feat as youngest player of the tournament, while Zion had to watch his team USA lose to Canada from home, since he was unable to crack a spot on the team.
Yet, we still see headlines that say "Zion, The Next Lebron". This may be a real hot take but I'll stand by it and say that Zion is the next Anthony Bennett. The NBA's first overall pick of 2013, who now plays in the developmental league. Much like Anthony was, Zion is a man among boys. But eventually Zion will have to face competition that's not so vanilla.
It will be real interesting to watch these two continue to duke it out for #1 next season together at Duke University. But I am all in with Barret. Although, if this was a popularity contest Zion may win. He will continue to go viral this season playing in his division. His dunks are jaw-dropping, but we all know the truth...