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Zion Williamson: “I liked coach Cal. We had a good relationship.”

Zion Williamson won the dunk contest Monday. (McDonald’s All-American Photo)

By LARRY VAUGHT

ATLANTA — Did Kentucky ever really have the lead in the recruitment of power forward Zion Williamson, who surprised many when he signed with Duke?

“It was really close,” said Williamson during the McDonald’s All-American Game Media Day. “I liked coach Cal. We had a good relationship. He told me all the things I could do at Kentucky and what a good all-around player I would be for Kentucky. He said I could play several different positions, and I did like that.”

Yet it is Duke, not Kentucky, that will have Williamson — who won the McDonald’s slam dunk contest Monday night — on the roster next year.

Duke signee Tre Jones, a point guard, said he worked hard recruiting Williamson along with Duke signees R.J. Barrett and Cam Reddish. Still, Williamson was thought to have UK, Clemson and North Carolina as his top choices when he picked Duke instead.

“I thought he was coming to Duke, but I didn’t know for sure until he announced it,” Jones said. “I was waiting and watching just like everybody else. He never told any of us for sure what he was going to do.”

What did Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski do differently than UK coach John Calipari?

“Each school has a uniqueness about it. Both of them said that I’d be surrounded by other talented players that would help me get better and you could see that was true. So I don’t think it was much different what they were saying. I just thought Duke was right for me.”

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