by Alex Poletti
After a disappointing loss to Michigan State in the Elite Eight, Duke superstar Zion Williamson has decided to hang up his cleats for a more artistic pursuit: trombone performance.
The 18-year-old phenom announced his decision to pursue his further education in a press conference at Duke University, surrounded by friends and family.
“I would like to thank my coaches and my teammates, everyone who has helped me reach this point in my basketball career,” the forward said. “However, it is time for me to close the basketball chapter in my life and follow my heart to the brass section of Harry Davidson’s symphony orchestra.”
The decision comes as a surprise to many fans and analysts, many of whom predicted Williamson would be selected as the first overall pick in the 2019 NBA draft. However, to those close to him, this was not a startling discovery.
“I think we all knew his head wasn’t in the game at the end,” teammate RJ Barrett says. “No doubt, he was still a great player. But you could see him on the sidelines peeking at his charts for ‘Take the A-Train’ and other classic jazz hits.”
Williamson’s love for brass started after his knee injury against the University of North Carolina in late February. Finding that he had more time on his hands, the North Carolina-native wandered into the Mary Duke Biddle Music Building, where kismet struck.
“It’s like something out of a dream, really,” a noticeably giddy Williamson explains. “I was in this building, and I just saw an instrument sitting in a practice room. I went up to the trombone, and after a couple of spurts, I knew that’s what I wanted to do for the rest of my life. It was magic.”
Williamson’s trombone career might not have gone further if faculty member Michael Kris hadn’t heard Zion’s music.
“From my office, I heard a trombone,” the tubist recalls. “It was obviously a novice player, but there was clear potential there. I looked around the corner to see who it was, and much to my shock it was Zion.”
Kris went on to offer the 6’7 forward private lessons, where the passion and prowess only grew.
“People say Zion has the perfect basketball body, but what they don’t realize is his body is basically engineered for trombone,” Kris says. “That wingspan really helps reach seventh position with ease, I’m surprised no one caught on to his potential earlier.”
While it seems that Williamson’s career in basketball is over, he explains that sports will still be a major part of his life.
“I can’t forget how much basketball gave me,” Williamson says, “and how instrumental it was for me to find trombone. And I’m not done with sports, I’ll make that clear right now. Hopefully next year you’ll see me on the football field as a member of the marching band!”