Zion Williamson and Ja Morant are the two most electrifying names in college hoops and projected to go first and second overall in our own Jonathan Adams’ latest mock drafts. However, relatively unknown is the fact that at one point, Zion Williamson and Ja Morant played together during their AAU days. Growing up just an hour and a half apart from one another and only a year apart in age, it only makes sense that the two would have at some point crossed paths on the hardwood.
Zion Williamson and Ja Morant, AAU Teammates on Different Paths
Once upon a time both Zion Williamson and Ja Morant were teammates on an AAU squad. Williamson was a freshman in high school and Morant a sophomore. However, Williamson and Morant didn’t play together on any big name team backed by a shoe company, and instead were teammates before their respective rises on a regional circuit for the South Carolina Hornets in 2014-2015.
While Ja Morant would toil in relative anonymity for a little while longer before finally catching the attention of top programs, Zion would make a name for himself with the Hornets and ended up moving on up to the SC Supreme where he would see the national exposure that made him a household name. However, prior to the Hornets, Williamson was a relatively unknown commodity.
Ja Morant’s father, Tee Morant, was even quoted as remembering the exact game where people started paying attention to Zion as he told CBS Sports:
“I guess the rest of the athleticism had to kick in, but he was catching alley-oops from Ja then. I think the game he really opened a lot of people’s eyes, one kid went up for a layup and he tried to put it high off the glass and Zion looked like he went to the top of the square and pinned it. It was a big tournament, everyone went crazy, and that went viral.”
From there Zion would go onto become a national sensation while he left the lesser known Morant behind with the Hornets. Morant would (obviously) eventually get his shot at mid-major program Murray State but it is undeniable the difference in recruiting hype surrounding the two players and it is interesting to see where Morant might be playing had Zion never left his side.
While Zion’s new AAU team was loaded with talent, the talent level of the South Carolina Hornets was, while unknown at the time, INCREDIBLY strong. The two actually had help in the form of another star player on the team…
Devontae Shuler also played alongside Zion Williamson and Ja Morant
Speaking of a third-star player, Devontae Shuler also played alongside Zion Williamson and Ja Morant on the Hornets. Shuler, now a standout guard on the Ole Miss Rebels, also has heard his name floated in draft circles but is expected to stay in college for a few more years to fully round out his game. Despite not being nearly as polished as Williamson or Morant at this time, Shuler has carved out a key role for himself with the Rebels and projects to have NBA potential as a combo guard.