Zion Williamson’s senior season has been filled with highs and lows.
The highs included appearing on a pair of games on ESPN, gracing the cover of Slam Magazine, being picked for the McDonald’s All-American game and recently going over 3,000 points for his career.
The lows were missing more than a month with a foot injury and the negative reaction he received when he made his college choice last month. Williamson announced he would be attending Duke during a televised ceremony on ESPN2 on Jan. 20.
Williamson said he received a lot of backlash on social media for not choosing South Carolina or Clemson. He said some of the messages were so bad he couldn’t even repeat them on camera.
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“People said I disrespected the state by not staying in state and turned my back on them,” Williamson said. “But that’s not the case at all. No matter where I go, I always will rep South Carolina. It is one of those things where time will heal things.”
The five-star prospect said the coaches from the schools recruiting him respected his choice and he even got positive texts from South Carolina coach Frank Martin and Clemson’s Brad Brownell.
Since making his decision, Williamson felt a weight had been lifted off his shoulders. He’s been able to just go out and have fun for the remaining games in his high school career. The Naismith Award finalist poured in 32 points Saturday in an 82-35 victory against St. Andrew’s in the first round of the SCISA 2A playoffs at Sumter Civic Center.
Williamson’s high school career in the Palmetto State will have three more games as long as the Griffins keep winning. Spartanburg Day plays The King’s Academy on Tuesday in the second round. The semifinals are set for Thursday and the championship game next Saturday.
Spartanburg Day is going for its third consecutive Class 2A title. It remains a huge draw for the SCISA tournament as fans pour into the arena to get a glimpse of Williamson before his high school career ends. Williamson signed autographs and took pictures for about 30 minutes following the game.
Last year’s Spartanburg Day championship game drew a sellout crowd of more than 3,700 people, and bigger crowds are expected the deeper the Griffins go in the tournament.
Williamson said playing in Sumter will always hold a special place in his heart. He remembers attending his stepfather Lee Anderson’s basketball camps in the city as a youngster, and it was there he developed a fondness for basketball.
“Those camps are where my love grew for the game, so I feel like this is the perfect spot for me to get a third championship and end my high school career,” Williamson said. “But we aren’t taking anything for granted and taking things game by game and wanting to send a message each game.”