MINNEAPOLIS — Zion Williamson admitted Friday that he would have much rather come to Minneapolis, site of the 2019 Final Four, as a participant.
Instead, he was at U.S. Bank Stadium to accept national player of the awards from the United States Basketball Writers Association and Associated Press. But the Duke Blue Devils‘ star, who faced each of the remaining squads (Auburn, Michigan State, Texas Tech and Virginia) during the 2018-19 season, was asked to size up each of the four teams.
Williamson opened his four-team scouting report with Virginia, against which he scored 42 combined points in a pair of wins: “What stood out about Virginia was how they can control the pace of the game. I don’t think I’ve ever seen them frustrated. So they control the game very well.”
Williamson went for 24 points and 14 rebounds against Michigan State in the Elite Eight last weekend. Of the Spartans, Williamson said, “Michigan State, they ran motion offense very — like, great. When the first option wasn’t there, they kept running through their plays and they eventually found open shots.”
Of Texas Tech, which Williamson (17 points, 13 rebounds) and Duke defeated 69-58 on Dec. 20 at Madison Square Garden, Williamson said: “Texas Tech: their defense … they took like, nine, 10 charges against us. Their defense is probably the best we played against.”
Auburn was the team the expected No. 1 pick in the 2019 NBA draft faced the longest time ago, scoring 13 points and pulling down nine rebounds in a 78-72 win on Nov. 20. Of the Tigers, Williamson said, “Auburn is a fast-paced team that can shoot the 3-ball very well. They’re very aggressive.”
Williamson was also asked to predict a winner by the assembled media on hand in Minneapolis but politely declined.
Duke was 4-1 against the five Final Four teams, with the only loss coming in Sunday’s 68-67 Elite Eight defeat to Michigan State.
“I wish I was here under different circumstances,” Williamson said. “I mean, you win some, you lose some. Just gotta move on.”