Zion hype train set to make its second stop at United Center
The Bulls didn't win one of the top two picks in the draft lottery, but they should feel like winners by getting one of the first two looks at No. 1 overall pick Zion Williamson.
Williamson and the New Orleans Pelicans will visit the United Center on Wednesday in the second preseason game for both teams. Williamson made his debut Monday in Atlanta and lived up to the hype, finishing with 16 points, 7 rebounds, 3 steals and 3 dunks.
"This isn't high school or college anymore," Williamson said after the game. "You've got to go up strong. So I went up strong and I was able to finish."
This is one of the two Bulls games scheduled to be on ESPN this season. Head coach Jim Boylen is ready to believe the hype.
"I guess I understood his talent is exceptional and his athleticism is legendary," Boylen said after Tuesday's practice at the Advocate Center. "I just like the spirit he plays with, the energy he brings."
Williamson, listed at 6-feet-7, 285 pounds, was the talk of the last college basketball season during his lone year at Duke. He's been providing Twitter highlights since his high school days with his crazy athleticism.
Bulls rookie Coby White was on hand during the season's most infamous game, when Willamson slipped on the court, blew out his shoe and injured his knee in the opening minute of a Duke-North Carolina game on Feb. 20.
Willamson missed the second regular-season game against Carolina, but returned to drop 31 points on the Tar Heels in the semifinals of the ACC tournament. White scored 11 points in that contest.
"He's what you see," White said Tuesday. "What everyone else sees. He's 6-6, big, strong, athletic, powerful. So I mean, it's nothing new. It's just seeing it in person."
White is from Goldsboro, N.C., and Williamson from Spartanburg, S.C., so the two crossed paths before college. White made a video suggesting Williamson join him at UNC a few days before the future Blue Devil made his college choice. The two were teammates at the 2018 McDonald's All-American Game.
"I played against him in high school, so I kind of already saw it," White said. "He's powerful, strong and he's big. And he's rare. He's a rare breed, at his size to do what he does.
"My first time seeing him was at an AAU tournament. I saw him walking. We passed each other, and our team knew some players from his team. So they kind of chopped it up."
Bulls center Wendell Carter Jr. was at Duke when Williamson made his recruiting visit, but said they didn't spend much time together.
"He's had this hype since pretty much high school," Carter said. "I was watching him in summer league, watching him in that first preseason game, and he's not going to have no problem transferring that to the next level. I know he's going to do wonders in this league, and I'm happy for him for sure."
Milwaukee sat most of its starters in Monday's preseason opener at the United Center. Giannis Antetokounmpo, Khris Middleton and Eric Bledsoe didn't suit up for the Bucks.
The Pelicans used all their main guys, including veteran guard Jrue Holiday and Lakers newcomers Lonzo Ball and Brandon Ingram against Atlanta. New Orleans also added Derrick Favors from Utah, J.J. Redick from Philadelphia and No. 8 overall draft pick Jaxson Hayes, a 6-11 center from Texas.