Zion Williamson and Ja Morant are going from being former AAU teammates to likely the top two picks in the 2019 NBA draft. Morant and Williamson were part of the South Carolina Hornets AAU team in 2015.
Williamson was just about to enter high school, while Morant was a freshman, per The State. Rivals’ Eric Bossi noted to The State that the Hornets were not a traditional AAU powerhouse.
“It’s incredibly unique,” Bossi explained to The State. “It wasn’t a shoe-funded team with the help of the shoe company people helping steer guys to that team. That’s what really unique about it. I’d have a hard time thinking of many independent teams that had this kind of success. What’s crazy about it is, it’s not like when those guys were all there was this crazy buzz about this team. It’s pretty crazy to think a team of all local guys without a shoe budget is looking at three NBA Draft picks, but three early-entry guys.”
The team later landed Georgia center Nic Claxton, but the Bulldogs big man did not play with Williamson and Morant. As SB Nation discovered, Williamson sent out several tweets in 2016 about his teammate.
“Go check out my boy highlights,” Williamson’s tweet read.
The Undefeated described the unassuming AAU team with Williamson and Morant.
Morant played AAU. He was on megaphenom and former Duke Blue Devil Zion Williamson’s team. But the team didn’t have a shoe contract. Morant’s dad was driving vans to games. They won a lot, but nobody noticed Morant.
Ja Morant Described Zion Williamson as a “Shy Dude” When They Played AAU Ball Together
Morant and Williamson had a front row seat to the growth of each other’s game. Morant noted that he saw something different about Williamson when they started playing together.
“I knew it along since the first day of that practice,” Morant told Flo Hoops. “We saw a new dude in the gym who was about 6-4 and was down there windmilling. And we was like, ‘What grade he in?’ They like, ‘Ninth,’ so we thought he was playing with the younger team. He came and played with us. Zion was a great player. I was a sophomore, he was a freshman. He was a very shy dude, though, but would go and score 30. So it was very fun to play with him.”
As for Morant, Williamson explained that one of the main things that have changed about the former Murray State point guard’s game is his added athleticism.
“How Ja is now, he had a similar game but dunking the way he is now, he was nothing like that,” Williamson noted to Flo Hoops. “But he still had that same mindset to go out there and be the best version of himself.”
Williamson and Morant will now be known for going back-to-back at the top of the 2019 NBA draft in addition to teaming up on an AAU team.