Zion Williamson gave basketball fans at the Myrtle Beach Convention Center a chance to meet him and grab a picture and an autograph on Wednesday night.
It was a nice gesture by the 6-foot-7 phenom from Spartanburg Day School, who welcomed a line of fans for more than 30 minutes at a table set up for the occasion.
But tournament organizers and spectators at the Beach Ball Classic would have probably preferred to see the high school senior perform dunks and blocks in person that they’ve likely seen on ESPN SportsCenter’s Top 10 Plays on multiple occasions.
Williamson is nursing a deep foot bruise and will not play in the tournament. He is still sporting a protective boot this week but intends to return to the court shortly after New Year’s Day.
“Injuries happen in basketball. That’s just a part of it,” Williamson said. “I can’t sit here and mope and complain about it. I can only rehab myself back to 100 percent and encourage my teammates, with or without me they can still go out there and win any game.”
Without him and a few other players this week, Spartanburg Day lost to Socastee 63-56 in overtime Wednesday and defeated Albany Academy (N.Y.) 53-46 Thursday.
Williamson grew up in Florence so he was well aware of the Beach Ball Classic and the talent that has come through the Myrtle Beach Convention Center in his lifetime.
Though his parents attended the tournament, he never did before coming this year as an unfortunate spectator rather than a player.
“I’m one of those people that I do like to watch basketball, but I’d rather be just playing it than watching it,” Williamson said. “It’s an honor that our school got selected to play in this. I was very excited, of course, but injury happens in basketball so all I can do is support my teammates.”
Had Williamson played and had Spartanburg Day defeated Socastee in the first round Wednesday night, Williamson would have gone head-to-head against Montverde’s 6-6 wing R.J. Barrett on Thursday.
Barrett is the No. 1 player in this year’s class and Williamson is ranked second, according to 247sports.com and other recruiting services.
While Barrett has committed to Duke, Williamson has yet to commit to a college. He essentially has his pick of schools, and intends to make a decision by the end of January, though that’s not a steadfast date.
“If it’s right, if it feels right I’ll do it,” Williamson said. “If not I’ll have to push it back.”