Zion ‘ready to be the face’ of the Pelicans

Zion ‘ready to be the face’ of the Pelicans

NEW YORK – Zion Williamson wanted to make one thing clear. He didn’t go to one of the finest restaurants in New Orleans and order chicken fingers.

In a half-hour session Wednesday before the NBA draft, Williamson liberally flashed his halogen grin, addressed the likelihood of starting his NBA career in New Orleans and buttressed questions about the great expectations he’s facing with reminders that he’s only 18 years old.

Duke’s Elite Eight loss in the NCAA tournament, here are five takeaways from Zion on the cusp of him becoming the No. 1 pick in Thursday’s NBA draft.’ data-reactid=”19″>In his first extended meeting with the media since Duke’s Elite Eight loss in the NCAA tournament, here are five takeaways from Zion on the cusp of him becoming the No. 1 pick in Thursday’s NBA draft.

Some clarity on New Orleans

Williamson appeared genuinely excited to be heading to New Orleans. He mentioned the Duke staff prepping him on the fast pace preferred by coach Alvin Gentry. He called the city “just welcoming,” noted that he enjoyed the vibe there and said that people were high-fiving him on the street during his visit. He added: “The city seemed very excited if I came there.”

Williamson wouldn’t come right and say he’s going to be on the Pelicans. But he also acknowledged the reality of playing alongside Jrue Holiday, Lonzo Ball and Brandon Ingram. He complimented Ball as a point guard and Ingram as a scorer, but said he hadn’t played against either in the AAU circuit.

While he only loosely addressed playing for the Pelicans, as to not take his No. 1 selection for granted, he did make clear what it would mean to become the No. 1 pick. “Every kid dreams about being the No. 1 pick,” he said. “It’d be a huge honor.”

He also isn’t intimidated by becoming the face of a franchise: “I think I am ready to be the face,” he said. He added that New Orleans team officials impressed him: “I felt like they kept it real. It’s not like they were trying to be my friend. They kept it business and just telling me how it was going to be if they drafted me.”

Zion Williamson garnered a little attention at the NBA draft media availability Wednesday in New York. (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan)

Zion ties

Zion played AAU ball with Ja Morant for the South Carolina Hornets during Zion’s freshman year of high school. He played alongside RJ Barrett during his freshman year at Duke.

He received plenty of questions about both, noting that Morant was “cold-blooded” and that he felt Barrett would be ready to handle the demands of playing in New York.

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