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Zion Williamson is not in Chicago for NBA draft combine drills


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What I’m Hearing: USA TODAY Sports’ Scott Gleeson is on hand in Chicago for the NBA Draft Combine and describes how the excitement in the atmosphere has dipped because Zion Williamson has chosen not to attend.
USA TODAYCHICAGO — Zion Williamson isn’t in the Windy City anymore, so he’s not expected to partake in drills and measurements at Thursday’s NBA draft combine or speak to the media, dimming the gigantic spotlight on the basketball player who has dominated headlines all week.Williamson left Chicago on Wednesday after meeting with teams, according to the Associated Press, meaning he could be skipping the entire portion of the combine that would highlight his eye-popping skills.After Tuesday night’s NBA draft lottery, which saw the New Orleans Pelicans surprisingly win the No. 1 pick — and the Zion sweepstakes – Williamson met with NBA teams as part of the combine’s six-day duration, according to NBA communications director Joanna Shapiro.But despite being the top name on the list of combine attendees, the former Duke star won’t be participating in anything that would ignite excitement in the public eye like, say, a vertical jump measurement (the human highlight reel measured at 45 inches at Duke’s mini-combine event last summer).Zion Williamson will likely be picked No. 1 by the New Orleans Pelicans in the June NBA Draft. (Photo: Geoff Burke, USA TODAY Sports)Williamson, the presumptive No. 1 pick, doesn’t have much to gain by participating in combine activities.He joins the last six No. 1 overall NBA draft selections in skipping the workouts. Deandre Ayton, Markelle Fultz, Ben Simmons, Karl-Anthony Towns, Andrew Wiggins, and Anthony Bennett all avoided the combine spectacle and perhaps the chance of being injured.Two years ago, Golden State Warriors star Kevin Durant made headlines when he said his advice for future top picks would be to “stay your ass home” — furthering the trend of elite players opting out of drills at the combine when they wouldn’t benefit their stock.And it’s not like Williamson’s stock can get any higher. He’s been the projected No. 1 pick since he picked up a basketball at Duke as a freshman last year. And his stepdad confirmed he has no intention of returning to school. CLOSE
SportsPulse: Everything points to Zion being a generational talent but there are parts of his game that still need work. HoopsHype’s Alex Kennedy dishes on the questions he still needs to answer.
USA TODAYDuring his time at Duke, where Williamson was college basketball’s national player of the year after averaging 22.6 points and becoming a regular dunking sensation on SportsCenter, the university helped manage the spotlight on the teenager LeBron James has referred to as the “most talked about player in a long time.”At Tuesday’s draft lottery, a visibly nervous Williamson tried to simmer ceiling-high expectations by noting, “a lot of people see me as a superstar. I’m an 18/19-year-old rookie.”Williamson hasn’t hired an agent in the draft process, and is instead being represented by his stepfather, Lee Anderson. Williamson met with Pelicans general manager David Griffin and is “excited about the prospects of coming down (to New Orleans) and getting settled and looking for a place to stay,” Anderson said Thursday during an ESPN radio appearance.Meanwhile, 77 invitees will be looking to boost their stock Thursday and Friday by participating in such events and 5-on-5 scrimmages in front of NBA coaches and executives.Williamson’s Duke teammate, RJ Barrett, is also expected to pass on this week’s workouts. But fellow teammate Cam Reddish, a projected top-10 pick who could benefit from strong showings in front of NBA scouts, will be in attendance. So will Murray State point guard Ja Morant, a projected No. 2 pick who isn’t expected to fall outside of the top three in the June 20 draft.Follow Scott Gleeson on Twitter @ScottMGleesonAutoplayShow ThumbnailsShow CaptionsLast SlideNext Slide

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