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Pelicans’ Jahlil Okafor ‘blown away’ by Zion Williamson

Another day, another NBA player gushing about Duke superstar Zion Williamson. New Orleans Pelicans big man Jahlil Okafor, who led the Blue Devils to a national title in 2015, is the latest to shower basketball’s next big thing with praise.

“He’s phenomenal,” Okafor said of Williamson, per K.C. Johnson of the Chicago Tribune. “I played some pick-up games with him this summer, and I was blown away by how strong he is. He’s a freak of nature.”

Duh.

Williamson, listed at 6-foot-7, 285 pounds, is one of the most impressive athletes to ever step foot on a basketball court. He’s incredibly fast for his size, moves like a guard in short areas with and without the ball in his hands, and plays even stronger than his chiseled frame and listed weight suggest. What really pops when watching Williamson play, though, is his supernatural leaping ability, which he uses not just for dunk-contest worthy finishes in transition, but also to contort his way through traffic in half-court situations and soar for rebounds on either side of the floor.

Even better, Williamson’s production matches the eye test. He’s averaging 22.0 points, 9.4 rebounds, 2.3 assists. 2.0 blocks, and 2.2 steals per game as a freshman while shooting a laughable 68.2 percent from the field. Remember when Okafor dominated the college game with sheer size, advanced skill, and hands fit for a giant? Williamson’s play throughout the first three and a half months of 2018-19 makes his lone season at Duke seem tame by comparison.

Will these Blue Devils enjoy the success Okafor’s did come March, though? We’ll find out soon, before Zion Williamson makes his highly anticipated NBA debut.