Zion Williamson might.
The season just ended on Sunday for the Duke star and presumptive No. 1 pick, and he is moving on to the NBA. However, before his first training camp, he may get an up-close look at how the world’s best work and prepare by joining Team USA for the World Cup. Marc Stein of the New York Times broke the news.
It’s hard to imagine a healthy Williamson would turn this opportunity down. Beyond that, he will get a nudge from Nike/Adidas/whoever wins the coming shoe bidding war for his services, because with the World Cup is in the massive market of China this summer that brand will want him there repping them.
This is a good idea. Williamson’s athleticism and ability to finish in transition will be a natural fit with the high-pressure-up tempo style Team USA uses. New coach Gregg Popovich plans to carry that over from Coach K — if you have an advantage take it, and the USA has a massive athleticism advantage over the rest of the globe on the basketball court.
Anthony Davis openly talked about how much he learned from that 2012 London Olympics experience, particularly how players such as LeBron James, Kobe Bryant, Chris Paul, and Kevin Durant prepared and worked off the court. Having the physical tools is one thing, maximizing them is another. Davis got a first-hand look at what it takes, and he has grown from there into one of the handful of true franchise cornerstone level players in the NBA.
Zion Williamson may get that chance.
The U.S. is scheduled to begin its pre-World Cup camp at Las Vegas on Aug. 5, with an intrasquad exhibition game at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas on Aug. 9. Then the team heads to Southern California for more training followed by an exhibition against Spain on Aug. 16 at the Honda Center in Anaheim, Calif.