Critique Zion Williamson’s body language all you want, but according to those closest to him, the Duke phenom is excited about becoming a member of the Pelicans if New Orleans selects him with the first pick in the NBA Draft on June 20.
Williamson, the high-flying prospect from Duke, is a virtual lock to be the first player off the board in a matter of weeks when New Orleans is on the clock atop the draft. According to his stepfather, Lee Anderson, Williamson is thrilled at the possibility.
“One thing that Zion has always been taught is to accept the things you can’t change and this is one of the things he had nothing to do with. It’s the process of the NBA, and certainly we’re excited about the Crescent City down there in New Orleans,” Anderson told the “Off the Bench” radio show on ESPN 104.5 in Baton Rouge. "I spoke with coach [Alvin] Gentry the other night and we met with Mr. David Griffin. We had a great conversation and we’re excited about the prospect of coming down there, getting settled, looking for a place to stay and all those good things."
“There has been a lot of speculation but that is not something we have even considered.”— OFF THE BENCH (@OTB_ESPN) May 16, 2019
Hear the full interview with @ZionW32’s stepfather Lee Anderson talking about Zion to the @PelicansNBA:
Then, to the delight of Pelicans fans everywhere, Anderson put to rest any rumors that Williamson would shun the franchise and play a second season at Duke.
“And about returning to Duke, there has been a lot of speculation but that is nothing we have even considered,” Anderson said.
Williamson also appeared to acknowledge there was no way he’d think about playing in college again during an interview with Slam Magazine late last month.
“You get this college experience once,” Williamson said. “If you’re in a situation like mine, where you’re one and done, I’m just trying to make the most of what I got. I love Duke, and honestly, I don’t want to leave. If I didn’t have as much at stake, I probably would stay for another year. But I can’t.
“This was the best year of my life. So, if I could come back for a second year I would, but unfortunately that’s just not the reality we live in. The reality we live in is (that) my ultimate dream is the NBA. It’s what I’ve been dreaming about as a kid so I have to pursue that. And I have to take care of my family.”
Williamson has until May 29 to withdraw his name from the draft pool. But, if he did that, he’d forgo millions of guaranteed dollars — for at least one year — as the No. 1 pick in the draft typically receives a contract worth a little more than $8 million in his first NBA season, according to Forbes.