clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

Would you rather have a sophomore PJ Washington or a freshman Zion Williamson?

New, comments

Both players should be two of the top power forwards in America.

Mark Zerof - USA Today Sports

A dominant power forward can be a tremendous asset in college basketball.

Kentucky and Duke will both have a quality option at the power forward position with sophomore PJ Washington and freshman Zion Williamson.

I would be lying if I said that I didn’t really want Zion Williamson to come to Kentucky. When he jumped on the scene as an internet sensation. it seemed like Lexington was the perfect destination for him to showcase his talent.

Ultimately, he went to dark side and chose to play for Coach K at Duke instead.

Thankfully, Washington will be coming back for his sophomore year and add even more depth to the loaded UK roster. His experience will allow him more of an opportunity to showcase his talent and potential.

If you were picking a college basketball team, would you select a sophomore PJ Washington or a freshman Zion Williamson?

PJ Washington

PJ Washington’s decision to return to school was very much up in the air for most of the spring and went to the final deadline. There was a constant leak of information regarding his future plans that largely revolved around his injured pinky finger and comments from his father.

As we know, Washington, elected to return to Kentucky for his sophomore and will join forces in the front court with Stanford transfer, Reid Travis. Washington has also completed the necessary surgery for that injured pinky finger and it is reportedly healing well.

The decision to return to school was probably the best for Washington as his projections for this year’s draft were well out of the lottery, and with his potential he could very well find himself being selected in the top 10 at the 2019 NBA draft.

I would also have to assume that Washington feels that he has some unfinished business to tend to at UK. Even though he played exceptional in the Sweet 16 loss to Kansas State, his consistent misses at the free throw line played a significant part in derailing Kentucky’s chances to play Loyola Chicago for a trip to the Final Four.

I expect Washington to come back this year in excellent shape and have an even greater impact on the game now that he has the experience of a college season under his belt. Adding Reid Travis to the mix is going to change the dynamic of Kentucky’s offense and defense. Can you imagine trying to block out Washington and Reid Travis? That is a tall task that most teams will struggle to have an answer for.

Two legitimate scoring threats in the post will boost opportunities for both of UK’s big men to get high percentage shots. Washington should improve on his 10.8 points per game last year and could content for All-SEC honors as well. If he can put his shoulder in a defenders body and make a jump hook consistently, then Washington will be an All-Sec type threat this season.

Zion Williamson

Unless you live under a rock, chances are you have seen a video clip of Zion Williamson’s absolutely absurd athleticism. Even Kentucky fan, Drake, has been photographed in a Spartanburg Day jersey with Williamson’s number. There is no denying that he will bring energy and excitement to Duke and college basketball as a whole.

The thing that always impressed me most about Williamson is his ability to leap the way he can at his size. He weighs in the neighborhood of 280 pounds. To put that in perspective, 7 foot Kentucky Center Nick Richards weighs about 240 pounds.

Williamson’s body mass on paper is probably closer to an SEC lineman than it is to an SEC power forward. It is an understatement to say that he is an extremely explosive player. Williamson’s ability to get in shape may make the difference in his freshman season being as prosperous as it can be.

Questions were raised around his weight and stamina during postseason events, like team USA camp. I am sure that Coach K and the Duke staff have a plan to keep him lean, but it will be something to follow in the fall leading up to the Champion’s Classic matchup with Kentucky in November.

Some have implied that Williamson just over powered inferior competition during his time at the Spartanburg Day School where he averaged 36.4 points and 11.4 rebounds during his senior year. I believe there to be some truth in that, but the amount of 40+ games he tallied makes me confident in saying that he can score the ball at an elite level.

Creating his own shot may be a weakness for Williamson at the next level, but his teammates should be effective in getting him easy baskets. Duke has the #1 recruiting class, including the top three players, R.J. Barrett, Cam Reddish, and Zion Williamson.

What Duke lacks in experience they will make up for in raw talent. Zion Williamson will be in a good situation to sit back and let the game come to him.

My Pick:

PJ Washington

Last season showed me what Washington is capable of and his one year of experience playing under John Calipari will make a major difference leading into 2018-2019. The addition of Reid Travis is going to be monumental for Washington’s ability to be strictly played one on one, as well as open up offensive rebounding opportunities. He is going to have a monster year.

Zion Williamson should no doubt provide some epic highlights. I am looking forward to the opening game of the season against the Duke Blue Devils.