Former NBA Player: Zion Is "A Glorified Shawn Kemp"

Olden Polynice shared his candid thoughts on Zion Williamson, the one-and-done rule, and the NCAA’s model of amateurism, among other topics

Reiter Than You
February 21, 2019 - 8:48 pm

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Former NBA player Olden Polynice dropped by CBS Sports Radio on Thursday for a candid interview about Zion Williamson, the one-and-done rule, and the NCAA’s model of amateurism, among other topics. 

We’ll start with Williamson, who sprained his knee less than one minute into Duke’s 88-72 loss to North Carolina on Wednesday. Williamson is expected to be the No. 1 pick in the NBA Draft in June, but Polynice isn’t sure that’s merited.

“I’m not really sold on him all the way through,” Polynice told Chris Moore, who was filling in as host of Reiter Than You. “I love his athleticism and his jumping ability. I will definitely give him that. And he is the nicest, nicest kid. Very respectful. So with that being said, I don’t believe that he’s going to be a great pro. That’s my personal opinion and mine alone. I saw him play on the circuit. He had a hard time scoring against kids taller than him – and this was high school. And yes, he’s having a nice year with the Duke Blue Devils, but he also has other great players around him. I believe that’s had an effect as well.”

Williamson is averaging 21.6 points, 8.8 rebounds, 2.2 steals and 1.8 blocks for No. 1 Duke (23-3).

“I think he will succeed, but I don’t think he’s going to be what people assume he’s going to be,” Polynice said. “He’s more of a glorified Shawn Kemp, in my opinion. Some people said Charles Barkley. I’m like, ‘Oh no, no, no, stop.’ People forget how great Charles Barkley is – or was – because of what he’s doing with TNT.”

What about Draymond Green? Is that a good modern-day comparison?

“I think he’ll be a better Draymond as far as offensively,” Polynice said. “But I don’t know if he has the heart of a Draymond Green, and that’s what makes Draymond so great. But I see him as a Shawn Kemp type.”

Asked to identify Williamson’s biggest weakness, Polynice didn’t hesitate.

“His biggest challenge is shooting,” he said. “It’s going to be scoring on taller guys. It’s weird. If you watch his jump-shot, he has a little hitch in it. The way he follows through, it’s more like a c-action. It’s weird watching him shoot. I don’t know if people have broken it down to see that. I don’t know if it’s good enough to be consistent. He’s going to have to switch it up. We used to say, ‘You got to write the letter i with your index finger on your follow-through. He doesn’t write the letter i; he writes like a c or some other letter. It’s weird.”

Williamson’s knee injury prompted many to criticize the one-and-done rule. In fact, many fans and analysts believe Williamson should sit out the rest of the college basketball season to ensure that he is healthy for the draft.

After all, why play for free when millions await?

“I’ve been against this thing for so many years,” Polynice said. “They can go to war and die at 18, but they can’t go play basketball at 18. It’s the most absurd thing I’ve ever seen. And so, to me, they have to make that change. It’s sad. Everybody’s making money. And I get tired of this crap about, ‘Well, they get a free education.’ No, you’re not getting a free education. You are getting an opportunity to get an education – if you apply yourself. But it’s not a guarantee that you’re getting an education.”

Especially as a one-and-done player.

“The one-and-done, to me, is worst of all because I know I’m only going to be there for a year,” Polynice said. “What kind of classes am I taking? What am I really learning? And so, it’s all a big joke. For the kids, it’s unfortunate because they’re getting used, and the NCAA is making all this money under the guise of ‘They’re amateurs.’ 

“It’s sad,” Polynice continued. “I’ve always said this: As long as somebody is making one dollar off of any game you play, you are considered a professional. All these kids are professional athletes. We need to stop with the bull about amateurism. There is no amateurism when it comes to this. It’s not about being an amateur; it’s about who’s getting paid and who’s not.”