Both players were impressive in their first taste of college basketball, with Barrett pouring in 33 points and Williamson adding 28 in a rout of Kentucky in the Champions Classic. But Williamson’s thunderous dunks and stunning athleticism for his 6’7″, 285-frame have captured the imagination of fans — including a few with NBA connections.
“I though LeBron [James] was a one-shot deal,” Warriors coach Steve Kerr said after seeing Williamson in action. “But apparently the next guy’s coming.”
“He’s very explosive, he’s very quick and he has a very large frame,” said Bulls center Wendell Carter Jr., who played for the Blue Devils last season. “That’s very rare. Not many people can guard that.”
More than 70 NBA personnel attended Tuesday’s game, which was preceded by a matchup between traditional powers Kansas and Michigan State. Adam Zagoria of FloHoops talked to a pair of unidentified scouts who raved about Williamson, but they were impressed by Barrett as well.
“Spectacular talent. No. 1 fan favorite,” one scout said of Williamson. “Great dunker, great explosion. Quick off his feet. Great strength. Surprisingly good passer. He’s a great basketball player. He showed that [Tuesday] night against some outstanding athletes.”
“He’ll end up being the best player in this draft,” the other scout said in assessing Barrett. “Versatile. Can score in three different ways. He can make the 3-pointer. He can get to the basket. He can shoot the mid-range. He’s got great positional size. Most dangerous in the open floor. If he were to come out, I think he’s the best all-around talent this year.”
Barrett, who already has international experience with Canada in the FIBA World Cup qualifiers, tops the latest mock draft compiled by Jonathan Givony of ESPN, which was put together in August. Givony slotted Williamson with the No. 3 pick and states that there’s much more to his game than spectacular dunks. He exhibited an ability to drive, pass and play defense during an exhibition tour, but some NBA executives they’re not convinced that he’ll be a dominant player at the next level.
We know college basketball season just started, but we want to get your opinion on Williamson. Do you believe he’s an NBA star in the making? Will he or Barrett be the top pick in June, or will that honor go to somebody else? Please leave your responses in the space below.