- Duke freshman Zion Williamson is the overwhelming favorite to win the Naismith Award as NCAA basketball player of the year
- Just two freshmen – Kevin Durant and Anthony Davis – have won the award
- Davis is the only freshman to win the Naismith and go No. 1 overall in the NBA Draft in the same year
From the start of the college basketball season, everyone said keep your eye on Zion Williamson, and it turns out that everyone was right.
In fact, the 6-7, 285-pound Duke Blue Devils freshman is so impressive that he’s drawing royalty to his audience.
— Adam Zagoria (@AdamZagoria) February 15, 2019
Los Angeles Lakers star LeBron James, King James himself, made a special trek to Duke to see Williamson live and in person on the basketball court, and came away suitably impressed.
Williamson’s presence on the floor is so overwhelming that books have decided the battle for the Naismith Award as the best player in NCAA basketball is basically a showdown between Zion and the college basketball world.
They are no longer offering odds on any other individual besides Williamson to win the award.
Odds Zion Williamson Wins 2019 Naismith Award
|Will Zion Williamson Be The 2019 Naismith Award Winner?||Odds|
*Odds taken 2/15
You can bet Williamson, or you can bet the field.
A little over a month ago, Williamson was -200, but Ethan Happ was listed at +350, along with a handful of other contenders you could bet on.
But Williamson has been so dominant as of late, he’s even getting (pretty short) odds already to win 2020 NBA Rookie of the Year.
Freshmen And The Naismith
The list of freshmen who’ve won the Naismith Award is a short one, and it’s impressive company to keep should Williamson enter the club.
The first to do so was Kevin Durant. The current Golden State Warrior was the 2007 winner at Texas. Anthony Davis, today a New Orleans Pelican, was at Kentucky when he captured the Naismith in 2012.
Now on @ForbesSports
— Adam Zagoria (@AdamZagoria) February 14, 2019
To date, Davis is the only freshman to win the award and be selected first-overall in the NBA Draft, a double that Williamson is also expected to turn.
You’re Known By The Company You Keep
A total of 15 players have won the Naismith and gone No. 1 in the NBA Draft in the same year, a list that includes Lew Alcindor (Kareem Abdul-Jabbar), Patrick Ewing, Larry Johnson, David Robinson, Tim Duncan, and Blake Griffin.
Before the NBA introduced the one-and-done rule in 2006 to make players eligible for the draft after one NCAA season, freshmen were seldom considered for the Naismith Award, because they had long college careers ahead of them.
Zion’s On The List
The midseason contenders list for the Naismith Award was released earlier this week and Williamson was one of 30 names among the group.
Shoutout to the Naismith Award for apparently being the only organization smart enough to put Brandon Clarke on their list ??♀️ pic.twitter.com/kvRA83bK5C
— Brenna Greene (@BrennaGreene_) February 13, 2019
Really, though, with all due respect, his was the only name that mattered.
Williamson is averaging 21.8 points per game. He’s third in the NCAA in field goal percentage (68.4). He’s the catalyst for a team many figure will emerge as the last school standing during March Madness.
Books have got it right when it comes to the voting for the Naismith Award – there’s Williamson, and then there’s everyone else.
This decision is a slam dunk.