Zion Williamson will be the most talked about NBA rookie since maybe LeBron James when he takes to an NBA floor for the first time next October, but before that, he may join some of the game’s most elite players in international competition.
While LeBron will not participate in this year’s FIBA World Cup in China, USA Basketball will apparently be looking at Williamson as an option for one of the 12 roster spots, per Marc Stein of the New York Times.
As Stein goes on to note, there is precedent in place for a top incoming rookie to make the elite USA Basketball squad, as Anthony Davis was on the 2012 Olympics roster before playing an NBA game. As for whether Williamson would be interested, the fact that the World Cup is in China, which has a rabid basketball fan base, could make the decision even easier for the likely top overall pick.
Williamson is about to land a massive sneaker contract from one of a number of potential suitors, and the Chinese market is one that shoe companies invest heavily in. The chance for Williamson to play on that stage in the summer before he even steps on an NBA floor and make an impact on that market would be exceptionally valuable, both for Zion and whatever company lands him. So, if USA Basketball does decide to bring Zion onto the roster, expect he and his representatives to say yes with the swiftness, and look to take Zion-mania global this summer.