A relaxed Zion Williamson met with the media in New York on Wednesday, the day before he’s expected to become the No. 1 overall pick in the NBA draft and the face of the New Orleans franchise.
And he made one thing clear: Don’t compare him to NBA players who came before him.
“I just look to be myself. I’m not trying to be nobody,” Williamson said. “I’m just trying to be the first Zion.”
That’s what the coaching staff of the Pelicans, holders of the first pick, must hope.
In his one season at Duke, Williamson averaged 22.6 points, 8.9 rebounds and 2.1 assists in 33 games. He was the consensus National Player of the Year and a consensus first-team All-American.
With the Pelicans’ trade of All-NBA big man Anthony Davis to the Los Angeles Lakers last weekend, Williamson becomes the unequivocal star of the team. He’ll turn 19 on July 6.
“I just want to be in the NBA,” the 6-foot-7, 285-pound Williamson said. “I didn’t have a favorite team growing up. Just to be in the NBA is all I ask for.
“Whatever team I end with, I know I’m going to give my all.”
Williamson said he made his first-ever visit to New Orleans recently.
“The city was just very welcoming,” he said. “Everywhere I went, I’m walking down the street and people are high-fiving me, saying they hope I come here.”
One thing Williamson was less certain about was the emotions he’ll feel when he hears his name called Thursday night at the draft.
“Honestly, I don’t know,” he said. “I don’t know how I’m going to react. I don’t know if I’m going to cry or have this giant smile on my face.
“We’ll see night. But I know I’m very excited about it.”