Look, I love Zion just as much as the next guy. How could you not appreciate a guy that’s built like this:
Image Source: Brian Spurlock/USA TODAY Sports
And still finds a way to do this:
WATCH YOUR HEAD, ZION! 😱 pic.twitter.com/I3566vSZwZ
— ESPN (@espn) November 15, 2018
Williamson has taken the college basketball world by storm, and for good reason. He’s likely going to be the No. 1 pick in next year’s NBA Draft (unless one of his teammates have something to say about it), and possesses one of the most uniquely gifted set of skills for a player we’ve ever seen.
HOWEVUH (Stephen A. Smith voice), as difficult as it is to believe, there are other players in college basketball. Ones that are worth watching, even. Here are eight of the most exciting players that aren’t named Zion (because you need something to watch when Duke isn’t playing):
Carsen Edwards, G, Purdue
After seeing four senior starters depart this past year, the Boilermakers entered 2018 with great uncertainty. While Purdue may not have a roster that can contend for a championship, it has been an absolute pleasure to watch Edwards carry an inexperienced group through the early season. The preseason All-American has taken the mantle, formerly held by Villanova’s Jalen Brunson, as the most consistently dominant lead guard in the country.
There are other players that are more explosive, better at shooting, or have a tighter handle, but Edwards’ natural scoring ability and the relentlessness in which he attacks the basket make him a candidate for the Naismith Player of the Year Award.
Purdue is now a one-man show, and there isn’t a better one-man show in the country than Edwards.
Jack Salt, C, Virginia
The Cavaliers are on a full-on revenge tour in 2018. With almost every major contributor back from the team that lost to UMBC in last year’s NCAA tournament, Virginia is on a mission to silence the college basketball world. From a talent standpoint, Tony Bennett’s squad should be able to compete with any team in the country. While the talented trio of DeAndre Hunter, Ty Jerome and Kyle Guy dominate most headlines, Salt flies under-the-radar as the team’s most important glue guy.
The New Zealand native is a delight to watch as a screen-setting, space-eating big on this well-balanced Cavaliers squad. Hunter, Jerome, and Guy provide enough offensive stability to keep the team afloat. Bennett’s offense requires a player to take a lesser role and provide a spark in other ways. His style of play is infectious and is integral to Virginia’s success.
Admiral Schofield, F, Tennessee
The SEC’s answer to Zion has an equally as fun first name. The Admiral — a 6-foot-6, 240-pound tweener — is one of the more intimidating figures in all of basketball. The hulkish forward looks like he belongs on a football field rather than a basketball court. However, much like Williamson, Schofield boasts an impressive skill-set for a player of his girth. Schofield has shot just a hair under 40 percent from three over the past three seasons, and is averaging over three assists per game in 2019. Playing alongside the reigning SEC Player of the Year Grant Williams, Schofield is able to fill a number of roles and serve as an energizer for the surging Volunteers.
When it matters most… 👌
— NCAA March Madness (@marchmadness) December 9, 2018
Ja Morant, G, Murray State
Future top-5 pick Trae Young spoiled us with his ability to blend scoring and playmaking during his lone year at Oklahoma. Young led the nation in both points and assists in his freshman year, becoming the first player in Division I history to lead in both categories. Morant has a chance to join Young in the record books.
Tthe sophomore guard from South Carolina has transformed into an offensive dynamo, averaging over 22 points and 9 assists. Morant’s most awe-inspiring performance thus far actually came in a losing effort. In a matchup with the heavily favored Alabama Crimson Tide, Morant posted 38 jaw-dropping points — including 25 in the second half to keep the game close. He can score from anywhere on the floor, and even leads the Racers in rebounding as well.
Mike Daum, F, South Dakota State
Anybody with the nickname the “Dauminator” is worth watching. A potential target as a grad transfer for a bigger program, Daum decided to finish out his career with the Jackrabbits. It may end up being the best possible decision he could have made, as South Dakota State is well on its way to making a fourth-straight trip to the NCAA tournament.
Daum is a skilled big man that is equally adept at scoring with his back to the basket and shooting from range. The senior enters 2018 with over 2,200 career points, and will likely finish his collegiate career in the top-10 for all-time points scored in Division I.
Jordan Caroline, F, Nevada
Nevada won’t be taking anybody by surprise this year. That’s the price you pay when you’re ranked No. 7 in the AP Preseason poll — and for good reason. The Martin twins are the team’s two most recognizable players, and elected to stay another year in Reno despite gaining some NBA steam. Five-star recruit Jordan Brown is set to take over for the program in the near future. Transfers Jazz Johnson and Tre’shawn Thurman are a big reason why this team is getting championship buzz, and round out one of the best starting lineups in the country.
That being said, Caroline remains the lead act.
The son of Super Bowl-winning defensive end Simeon Rice, Caroline is a bruiser that possesses shockingly quick feet and soft hands. On a roster filled with 6’6″-6’8″ tweeners, Caroline is by far the team’s best rebounder and a near lock for a double-double on a nightly basis. Caroline pushing the ball in transition after securing a defensive rebound is one of the most frightening sights in college basketball.
Remy Martin, G, Arizona State
The Sun Devils are off to another quick start in 2018. The current team is better built to last over the length of the season, thanks in large part to stud freshman guard Luguentz Dort. Dort is a legitimate NBA prospect that can carry this team through lengthy stretches. Though Dort is the star, the Sun Devils have a strong supporting cast of players that can contribute in multiple ways.
Martin played well as a freshman during his first year in Tempe, and has stepped into a starting role with the departure of last year’s leading scorer Tra Holder. Martin is a doberman on the defensive end. He makes opposing guards feel uncomfortable with insane quickness and surprising strength. The Pac-12 Sixth Man of the Year from a year ago, Martin is the kind of spark plug that can galvanize a team deep into March.
Sources: Twitter/ESPN, Twitter/MarchMadness, Stephen R. Sylvanie/USA TODAY Sports