NEW YORK (AP) – Expect to see a whole lot more of this in 2019: Duke forward Zion Williamson dunking and dominating.
The rim-rattling talent of Williamson figures to lead the Blue Devils on a deep NCAA Tournament run and, should he declare, possibly become a top pick in the NBA draft.
Williamson is a name you’re already getting to know. Around the world, there are plenty of fresh faces waiting to make a big mark on their sport. Some names you might not know that much about right now but just might by this time next year include golfer Cameron Champ and football player Tierna Davidson.
Champ hits the ball harder than anyone on the PGA Tour, with his swing speed approaching 130mph and ball speed around 192mph. The 23-year-old started his rookie season on the tour in fine fashion with a win at the Sanderson Farms Championship. The real test, though, comes at the Masters in April, when he faces Brooks Koepka, Rory McIlroy, Justin Thomas, Jordan Spieth and, of course, Tiger Woods.
As for the 20-year-old Davidson, she could help Alex Morgan, Megan Rapinoe and the Americans defend their title at the 2019 Women’s World Cup in France this summer. The Stanford standout was recently voted the young female player of the year by US football.
Why stop there? Here are even more athletes to watch out for in the new year:
— International football player Frenkie de Jong, a midfielder for the Netherlands who could play an integral role at the inaugural Nations League finals in June. The 21-year-old plays for AFC Ajax.
— Mississippi State forward Teaira McCowan has helped carry the Bulldogs to back-to-back appearances in the NCAA Tournament’s championship game the past two seasons. She figures to be a top pick in the WNBA draft.
— At USA Swimming’s Golden Goggles awards, Michael Andrew won in the category of breakout performer of the year. He could be someone to watch at the swimming world championships in South Korea this summer.
— Mixed martial arts competitor Mackenzie Dern, a 25-year-old from Arizona who is 7-0 in her UFC career.
— Cricketer Prithvi Shaw of India. The 19-year-old played his first Test match in October and scored a century. That’s really good.
— South Korean golfer Jin Young Ko was the LPGA’s rookie of the year. The 23-year-old is the fourth straight golfer from South Korea to earn that award, joining Sung Hyun Park (2017), In Gee Chun (2016) and Sei Young Kim (2015).
— Boxer Shakur Stevenson. An Olympic silver medallist at the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Games in the bantamweight division, the boxer named after rapper Tupac Shakur is off to a 9-0 mark in his pro career.
— Dallas Mavericks guard/forward Luka Doncic. The 19-year-old from Slovenia is averaging nearly 20 points a game and five assists.
Those are just a few names to watch out for.