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SportOpinion: Duke's Zion Williamson drops jaws in supersized return from injury

07:35  15 march  2019
07:35  15 march  2019 Source:   usatoday.com

Zion Williamson injury update: Duke expects star back Thursday for ACC Tournament

Zion Williamson injury update: Duke expects star back Thursday for ACC Tournament Williamson initially suffered the knee injury during the Blue Devils' first matchup against the Tar Heels on Feb. 20. "I think we'll get Zion back for Thursday," Krzyzewski told reporters after his team's loss to No. 3 North Carolina on Saturday. "He worked out this morning — again, no contact — but Monday, there will be. Hopefully, we'll get a couple good days of practice where he can be 5-on-5, and then see how that goes. But the way he looks right now, I think it's just a matter of getting in shape, getting in game shape, and going forward.

A freakish injury to Duke ’ s Zion Williamson , college basketball’s best and most prominent player, only seconds into a game on Wednesday night has Williamson fell backward in a split, grabbing his right knee. He walked off the court, and did not return . Duke Coach Mike Krzyzewski said afterward that

Zion Lateef Williamson (born July 6, 2000) is an American college basketball player for the Duke Blue Devils of the Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC).

CHARLOTTE — They stood elbow-to-elbow on the steps surrounding the players’ tunnel at Spectrum Center, some of them crowding for a viewing angle, others holding cell phones high above their heads.

It isn't often that a conference tournament produces a "remember where you were" moment, especially before the game actually starts. But there was a different energy Thursday night here at the ACC tournament, a din that followed Zion Williamson from his first emergence onto the floor to the first thunderous, above-the-rim dunk that announced his return to health to his final tally of 29 points and 14 rebounds in Duke’s 84-72 victory over Syracuse.

Coach K: Zion Williamson Doubtful to Play Saturday vs. UNC

Coach K: Zion Williamson Doubtful to Play Saturday vs. UNC Coach K: Zion Williamson Doubtful to Play Saturday vs. UNC

SportsPulse: Dan Wolken explains why no one should be panicking over Zion ' s injury vs. UNC and why his time at Duke has only benefited his NBA career. USA TODAY.

Duke ' s Zion Williamson suffered a mild right knee sprain and is listed as day-to-day. Duke freshman star forward Zion Williamson has at least partial insurance coverage in the event he sustains a serious injury , as he nearly did on Wednesday night when his Nike shoe exploded.

"Bro, you didn't miss," Duke guard R.J. Barrett said to a laughing Williamson as he picked up a box score in the postgame news conference, causing Williamson to cover his face with the copy in front of him.

Indeed, he didn't.

After missing six games over a three-week stretch that sparked a national debate over whether Williamson should play again this season, the most exciting college basketball player of the decade didn’t just come back Thursday from a knee injury the way most human beings would come back from a knee injury.

Like everything with Williamson since his college career began, it was a supersized, otherworldly, 13-for-13 comeback designed to drop jaws and give NBA executives dry heaves over the May 14 draft lottery that promises to change the direction of one franchise and leave several others cursing their luck.

Duke star Zion Williamson will play vs. Syracuse

Duke star Zion Williamson will play vs. Syracuse Duke star Zion Williamson will play vs. Syracuse

DURHAM, N.C. — Zion Williamson had 27 points and 16 rebounds, and No. 4 Duke pulled away to beat Army 94-72 on Sunday. Reddish added another 3 to stretch the lead to 78-61 with just over 9 minutes left, and the Blue Devils eventually went up by 20 on Williamson ’ s stickback with less than 4

Duke freshman Zion Williamson left Wednesday night' s game against North Carolina with what was called a mild right knee sprain and did not return . Jeff mentioned Irving' s injury at Duke . There was Embiid at Kansas before the Big 12 tournament five years ago. But we have not seen an elite player

"There was never any pressure to rush back until I was ready," said Williamson, who added that he never considered shutting himself down for the season. "I felt ready a few days ago and it was good to get back."

Williamson’s performance after a 22-day layoff didn't just remind everyone why Duke surged to No. 1 in February and has looked like the national championship favorite when fully healthy. It accentuated the gulf between Williamson and every other prospect in college basketball.

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BUBBLE WATCH: Winners and losers on the NCAA tournament fringe

Because with Williamson, it’s not just the unique physique, the force with which he can finish around the rim or his occasional flash of skill on the perimeter. Williamson, quite simply, loves to play — a simple but essential element of the entire package he brings to a basketball team, and one that was lost on the Twitter crowd yelling at him to shut it down after his left Nike exploded back on Feb. 20.

Zion Williamson injury update: Duke star ruled out vs. Miami on Saturday

Zion Williamson injury update: Duke star ruled out vs. Miami on Saturday The fact Duke waited until Saturday to announce Williamson is out for the Miami game left a glimmer of hope he might play.

Duke ' s Zion Williamson sits on the floor following a injury during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game against Zion Williamson 's Nike shoes are seen under his chair on the Duke bench following an injury to Williamson during Williamson did not return to the game. Gerry Broome / AP.

Duke ' s Zion Williamson is dominating college basketball three games into the season, averaging a double-double and shooting 82% from the floor. Against Eastern Michigan on Wednesday night, he scored 21 points, grabbed nine rebounds and had a jaw - dropping dunk in all of 21 minutes.

"I wanted to be out there every game," Williamson said. "I see my brothers out there battling and wanted to go to war with them.

"Everybody has a right to their own opinion, but I knew I was coming back the whole time."

Of course, if he was going to come back, it was going to be in a different pair of shoes than the Nike PG 2.5 that came apart at the seams, which was an interesting subplot on its own.

Earlier Thursday, Duke posted a photo of Williamson lacing up some white Nike Kyrie 4s, but these weren’t your typical, off-the-rack sneakers.

Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski said the day after the North Carolina game, Nike sent "their top people" to figure out what happened and then went to China to personally oversee the manufacturing of a stronger, more stable version. He said they’re also going to make sure Williamson alternates his shoes frequently, as they suspect wear and tear of using the same pair of shoes in several games contributed to them coming apart under the weight of Williamson’s 285 pounds.

"They came back within a week with different alternative to make sure it was done right," Krzyzewski said.

Zion Williamson Appears to Ditch PG 2.5s for Kyrie 4s After North Carolina Injury

Zion Williamson Appears to Ditch PG 2.5s for Kyrie 4s After North Carolina Injury Zion Williamson's sneakers were the talk of college basketball on Feb. 20 when he slipped and bursted through his PG 2.5s at Cameron Indoor Stadium in Durham, N.C. The freshman phenom has been out of the lineup since the injury, but will return on Thursday against Syracuse in the ACC Tournament. So with Zion returning to the floor, an obvious question arose on Thursday morning: What shoes will he wear when he returns to the floor? Your browser does not support this video require(["binding"], function (binding) { binding("wcVideoPlayer", "#video_player_74e8ae6c-a5a4-446c-aa39-1bd52eef2196").

Duke freshman forward Zion Williamson has a loss of value insurance policy should he be selected outside of the lottery in the NBA draft, according to The Action Network' s Darren Rovell. According to the report, Willamson' s policy, issued by International Specialty Insurance (ISI), is worth million on

Duke Blue Devils forward Zion Williamson (1) dunks against the Kentucky Wildcats in the second half during the Champions Classic at Bankers Life Fieldhouse. From memes to claims that Williamson isn't the best player on Duke ' s roster, fans took to Twitter to voice their reactions to the injury .

"We have a very close relationship, we think it’s the best shoe or we wouldn’t be with them."

Said Williamson: "The shoes were incredible this game."

Equipped with those stronger shoes, Williamson sprinted and rebounded and dove on the floor with abandon. He poked away balls, he bullied his way to rebounds, he called for lob dunks and offered his teammates a smile after every positive play.

Of course, that's what makes this whole thing so interesting and what separates him as a potential generational talent. In order to be the No. 1 pick in the NBA draft, Williamson didn't need to come back at all. And yet when he did, he played as if his future earnings depended on it.

"I've been in this game over 50 years and seen a lot of great players," Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim said. "I'm not saying he's better than those guys, but he’s a different player. He can do things nobody has done in this game. There aren't guys like him."

About the only thing Williamson didn’t do was shoot free throws well (2-for-9). But when you rack up five dunks, cause five steals and come within two rebounds of a double-double in the first half, the show is more or less already over.

Even though you only needed to see his first viral moment to understand that Williamson was indeed back — a steal at halfcourt, a launch from one step inside the free-throw line and an assault on the rim just two minutes in — he went ahead and offered up several more anyway. That's just who he is.

Zion Williamson out again, will sit against Wake Forest

Zion Williamson out again, will sit against Wake Forest Zion Williamson has not played since the crazy shoe-explosion incident that left him with a Grade 1 right knee sprain, and he’ll be out once more Tuesday night. 

Top-ranked Duke ’ s sensational freshman slipped awkwardly while attempting to drive to the basket in the opening minute of a highly anticipated showdown After a brief examination, in which the trainer appeared to be working on Williamson ’s right knee, he left for the locker room and did not return .

Duke star freshman Zion Williamson did not return to the second half of his team' s game against the Florida State after sustaining an eye injury late in the first half. Williamson was accidentally poked in the eye just before halftime on Saturday.

And while Thursday was massive for Duke because it was a reminder that the middling team they often looked like the past three weeks is no longer relevant to their NCAA tournament prospects, Friday’s semifinal matchup is significant on its own.

North Carolina beat Duke twice without Williamson, including last Saturday in Chapel Hill. Should Duke turn the tables on a neutral court with its best player healthy, its argument for a No. 1 seed will be rock solid.

"We’re very excited to be a part of it because it’s real now," Williamson said. "From now on it’s win or go home."

Follow Dan Wolken on Twitter @DanWolken.

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Opinion: Duke's Zion Williamson drops jaw in supersized return from injury

Related slideshow: 2018-19 college basketball season (Provided by imagn)

Opinion: Duke's Zion Williamson drops jaws in supersized return from injury

Zion Williamson in final phase of recovery, his return to Duke is close.
No. 4 Duke's time without national player of the year candidate Zion Williamson is nearing its end. Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski said Monday that Williamson has entered the final phase of his recovery from a sprained knee, meaning his return to game action could come as soon as this week. Krzyzewski did not rule out Williamson playing in Tuesday night's home finale against Wake Forest at 7 p.m. "There's no decision," Krzyzewski said. "It is still day-to-day. But he's in phase four of the four-phase program. It's just a matter of how long he stays in it. We feel comfortable. He had a good day of therapy and band work and conditioning (on Sunday).

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