Even in his absence, Duke Freshman Zion Williamson furthers his case for the No. 1 overall pick. Williamson recently was named Sporting News Player of the Year as well as Freshman of the Year. Many may wonder how a player can miss 16 percent of the team’s games and still win the prestigious award that Michael Jordan, Oscar Robertson, and most recently Jalen Brunson also received. However, its Zion’s absence that truly set him apart.
During Zion’s recovery from a freak knee injury, Duke has gone from the team to beat, to extremely vulnerable. Since Zion’ absence, Duke has gone 3-3 to close out the season. Zion has proved that his presence on the court is so vital to the team’s success that if not healthy Duke is mortal.
Willaimson averages 21 points, 8 rebounds, and 2 blocks per game while shooting 68 percent from the floor when healthy. As if this wasn’t enough, Duke has only lost twice when Zion has played the entirety of a game. Williamson’s stats speak for themselves but teammates also have high praise.
Talking to Sporting News Duke Junior Jack White stated, “He’s always meant a lot, both on the court and off the court. Off the court, he’s one of the nicest guys I’ve ever met, funny guys, and just a great teammate. As good of a player as he is on the court, he’s just as good off the court. Obviously, we miss him and what he brings on the court.”
White continued, “He’s an unbelievable player. What he does for us, just his versatility, his relentlessness, his willingness to fight and win is pretty tough to match.”
As for Zion’s current outlook he is expected to play in the ACC tournament. Coach Mike Krzyzewski told reporters after his team’s loss to No. 3 UNC, “I think we’ll get Zion back for Thursday.”
Duke better hope Williamson is ready to play because tomorrow the Blue Devils will take on the winner of Syracuse vs. Pitt. Duke is undefeated against Pitt this year, but have gone 1-1 against Syracuse.