By: Sean Golonka
Zion Williamson, an incoming freshman freshman power forward (small forward? center? maybe nightmare-man?) at Duke University, is a physical freak of nature. He’s 6-foot-6 and 285 pounds of pure muscle. That means he weighs more than every current NBA player other than the 7-foot-4 giant Boban Marjanovic. And Boban only weighs more by about 10 pounds or so.
But it isn’t just Zion’s straight bulk that makes him a nightmare for the other young men in the NCAA. Zion blends inhuman athleticism with his menacing frame. His vertical hovers around 40 inches, not far off from Shawn Kemp and Dominique Wilkins. He can dunk from the free throw line, seemingly with more ease than Michael Jordan or Zach Lavine. He has the speed and explosiveness to get chase down blocks on the shiftiest point guards.
Zion’s physical tools are unmatched by everyone else in the NCAA and maybe everyone else that has ever stepped foot on a basketball court. Really, Zion has so much potential for domination, that the best way to describe him is as a purple space demon with inhuman strength capable of destroying planets and maybe one day the universe.
Now, this description sure is reminiscent of Thanos, and the comparison between the two super powerful beings is only helped by Zion Williamson playing for the villains of the college basketball world. After seeing this comparison though, I was still left wondering: what other parallels can we draw between the upcoming season of college hoops and the Marvel Universe?
Luke Maye is Captain (All) America(n)
This one was just too easy. The connection between All-American and Captain America was clear to see, and of all the preseason All-Americans, Luke Maye was the only one that made sense as everyone’s favorite Avenger. As for the other preseason All-Americans, well, Barrett didn’t make sense because he plays with Zion Williamson, and the other three (Caleb Martin, Carsen Edwards, and Tyus Battle) don’t make quite as much sense because Maye is a more established leader than all three, and Maye goes to a much more popular school than all three. Additionally, the 6-foot-8, 240-pound Luke Maye is more reminiscent of the strong man that is Captain America than the others.
Spidey Boy Darius Garland takes over at Vanderbilt
Spider-Man is young. He’s agile. And, he’s got spidey sense. The only real difference between the hero and new Vanderbilt freshman Darius Garland is that Peter Parker is a New York City boy, who likes to wear a costume. Garland, a Tennessee native, was born in 2000, so he’s pretty young. He is about 6-foot-2 with a 6-3 wingspan, and he weighs around 170, which means he’s small for a basketball player. But he’s also shifty and quick, and he’s a pesky defender that annoys the heck out of opponents. Most importantly, Garland is a team-first guy that always gets others involved and that is quite spider-like with his tremendous vision and silky finishing ability. Get ready for Darius Garland to lead the Commodores past the first round of the tournament at least.
Tyus Battle is an IRON Man
While Tyus Battle certainly draws comparisons to Tony Stark’s alter ego, with his great leadership (he led Cuse to the Sweet Sixteen last year) and proclivity for flair (he is a next level bucket-getter), Battle really is more of an “iron” man than “Iron Man.” Last year he played in 96.2 percent of Syracuse’s minutes, and he even had a stretch of 31 games during which he sat out only 10 total minutes and actually averaged over 40 minutes per game. Battle is seriously made of iron, and with him likely dominating the play-time leader-boards for a second straight year, he should be able to put together a strong case for National Player of the Year.
You wouldn’t like Bol Bol when he’s angry
The Hulk is really just a guy, who turns into a massive green monster capable of great destruction when he’s angry. Bol Bol is a 7-foot-3, 220-pound giant, and he’ll even be wearing green all year long in Eugene. Now, Bol Bol might not be able to take down the space god that is Zion Williamson, but we still haven’t really seen him play angry. And with Louis King and Payton Pritchard on the roster, Oregon will be an absolute force if Bol Bol does start playing angry.
A Norse God in West Lafayette
Thor is ELECTRIC. That’s because he’s a god of lightning or something like that. You know who else is electric? Carsen Edwards. But he’s electric because he’s a god of basketball not of lightning (side note: I thought about going with Markus Howard here, since he’s a an absolute sniper, and he even dropped 52 in a game last season. But, Edwards really needs some recognition). Carsen Edwards, a junior at Purdue, looks like a top five player in the country, after a 18-4-3 year with 51-41-82 shooting splits. And with his team returning little other talent, Edwards will be must watch basketball, especially if he can repeat the type of success he found against Illinois last year, when he scored 40 points in one game.
John Calipari is Nick Fury
While it is clear from the previous comparisons I’ve made that the Kentucky roster is not composed of the college basketball versions of the Avengers, John Calipari, much like Nick Fury, has composed a team capable of taking down a villain like Zion Williamson. Sure, Bill Self has built a great team too. But, Kentucky is playing Duke on the first day of the season, which means the Wildcats will have an opportunity to take down Zion “Thanos” Williamson before he starts his warpath. Another reason Calipari gets the Nick Fury nod over Self is that the Kentucky roster is better suited to take down Zion and the Blue Devils. Kentucky has a ton of length and size in the front court between Reid Travis, PJ Washington, Nick Richards, and Keldon Johnson, and that group of guys should be able to clog the paint and slow down the god that is Zion Williamson.