Kentucky was one of the finalists in Zion Williamson’s recruitment — but even John Calipari didn’t expect this type of freshman season from the Duke star.
“We recruited Zion. I probably missed him a little bit,” Calipari said Friday on The Dan Patrick Show. “I knew he was going to be good, I didn’t know he was going to be this good. I knew he could dominate, but not like he’s done.”
Williamson chose Duke over Kentucky, Clemson, North Carolina and South Carolina back in January 2018, in a recruitment that went down to the wire.
Calipari had a front-row seat for Williamson’s college debut in November, when the South Carolina native finished with 28 points and seven rebounds in Duke’s 118-84 win over Kentucky.
“And when we played against him, I walked off the court and said, ‘I missed on another one!'” Calipari said on Patrick’s show. “I knew he’d be good … the kid’s off the chain.”
Last week, Calipari discussed how he went to see Tyler Herro instead of Williamson on one recruiting trip during the 2018 recruiting cycle. Herro had decommitted from Wisconsin and quickly had become a Kentucky priority, so Calipari and assistant coach Kenny Payne went to see Herro, while assistant coach Joel Justus went to see Williamson.
“When you’re doing what I do and as hard as this is here and as much as you have to do in a short period of time, you don’t have a whole lot of time for B.S.,” Calipari said, according to the Louisville Courier-Journal. “You just don’t. You have to keep it real. The only kind of guys that really will be into that are the guys that really want to play for us. … The word came back that that was the case with Tyler.”
Both Duke and Kentucky lost in the Elite Eight last Sunday.