A sold out crowd at the Colonial Life Arena Saturday were cheering for more than the home team in the win over Georgia.
With the nation's No. 1 prospect for the 2018 class, 6-foot-6 forward Zion Williamson of Spartanburg Day in attendance, chants of "We want Zion" broke out several times throughout the game. And a number of fans ventured over to Williamson during the game for pictures and autographs.
Pretty heady stuff for a high school junior.
"When I heard the student section chanting my name, that feeling is just amazing knowing that they are just showing me how much love," Williamson said. "I enjoyed it. I love stuff like that."
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Williamson watched the Gamecocks battle to a two-point win over Georgia, a win that, coupled with Kentucky's loss later that night to Florida, put the Gamecocks alone in first place in the SEC. He then met with Frank Martin and the Gamecocks' coach message to him was straightforward.
"Be different, stay in state and change the state of South Carolina, make South Carolina basketball players stay in South Carolina." Williamson said. "The atmosphere was amazing and I like how hard South Carolina plays defense and I like how they execute on defense."
Williamson also visited Clemson for the Virginia game and he got some face to face time with Tigers' coach Brad Brownell.
"It's almost like the same thing, stay in state, change history for basketball in South Carolina," he said. "Also, follow my legacy because I had family go to Clemson. They like to push the ball and play a four-around, one-in offense from what I saw, and they just play transition and push it. I love all styles because I feel like the more I can bring to the table the more I can help my team."
So, it's clear the coaches of the state's top two programs are playing the state pride card with Williamson, and why wouldn't they after seeing a steady stream of top prospects leave the state for a North Carolina, a Texas or an Oklahoma State? But will pulling on those heartstrings be enough to convince Williamson to stay home instead of leaving for one of any of the top programs in the country?
"When it comes down to it, I'm going to have to choose a school that fits me the best," Williams said. "I guess location for me doesn't really matter."
Williamson also went to Kentucky this season for the Kansas game and saw first hand what the scene is like where basketball is king, not football. But, if the basketball is good, he's not averse to going to a school with a prominent football program as well.
"Basketball just needs to fit me well and I just need for me and my family to have a good relationship with the coach," he said.
Next up for Williamson is a possible visit to Duke this weekend for the Clemson game and then a visit to North Carolina later in the month.
Williamson said his current focus is on his own team and trying to win a championship. He is looking to trim his long list of offers to his short list by the end of the summer, and as of he does not expect to sign until the spring period of 2018. And there are no current favorites
"My recruitment is still wide open."
Williamson said he will return to Spartanburg Day for his senior season where he hopes there will be a more national schedule for his team compared to this season.
▪ South Carolina running back target Master Teague III visited Duke Saturday.
▪ Punter Joe Doyle of Knoxville, who has a preferred walk-on offer from USC, said he will visit the Gamecocks around Feb. 17. He also is planning to visit Arkansas the following weekend.
▪ Former Gamecocks forward Eric Cobb, who is now at Florida junior college Chipola College, was offered by Connecticut according to DMVelite.com.