During a nationally televised basketball game against the University of North Carolina Tar Heels last month, Duke University freshman standout, Zion Williamson drove the basketball and *poof* his left foot literally busted out of his shoe.
Williamson went down clutching his right knee.
The injury was a Grade 1 knee sprain, and the team listed him as day-to-day.
Heavily regarded as the No. 1 overall pick in the 2019 NBA Draft, the 6’7″ and 285 pound Williamson, 18, averaged 22.1 points and 8.9 rebounds per game this year and was the unanimous ACC player of the year.
Some thought Williams should’ve sat out the rest of the season.
After the accident, debates began on everything from Nike, the shoe’s manufacturer to what insurance policies should be put in place issues and of course whether the likely NBA lottery pick from Duke University should risk his professional future by continuing to play for the Duke Blue Devils.
“I would never tell a kid what to do in that situation, it’s up to him,” CBS Sports’ Clark Kellogg told me last week.
“If you want to play and experience that in college, you should have every right to choose for your future. I hope he plays if he wants to play and in vice versa. I hope his decision and nobody else’s and I’ll live and be happy with it.”
Guess what? Williamson kept playing!
Williamson missed the remainder of the regular season for Duke, a five-game stretch where the team went 3-2 in his absence.
Then Zion Williamson came back for the ACC Tournament and dominated.
For those keeping score at home: Williamson recorded a total of 81 points, 30 rebounds and seven steals to help lead the Blue Devils to their 21st ACC title in school history.
“I love my teammates and I made a commitment to them when I committed to Duke,” Williamson told ESPN.
“I felt like I would’ve been a bad person if I didn’t come back so coming back was not an issue.”
Williamson is one of four finalists for the Naismith Trophy, an award which recognizes the most outstanding men’s college basketball player.
“When players get hurt it forces you to respond in a different way,” said Williamson.
“And just makes us closer as a team because we’ve been through so much and the fact that we’re here now, it’s a brotherhood,” Williamson said. “We just bonded through it all.”
Zion Williamson’s will to win in the NCAA Tournament will be on full display this evening. The Duke Blue Devils will take on the North Dakota State Bison today at 7:10 P.M. EST.
Worth noting: CBS will have a camera on Williamson the whole game.
According to CBS coordinating producer of college basketball Marc Wolff, the network will be devoting a single camera to track Williamson throughout the tournament and will debut the coverage at Colonial Life Arena in Columbia.
“Because of Zion (Williamson), we have added a camera dedicated to him the whole time he is on the floor,” Wolff told The State. “We hired a cameraman, a camera, a digital tape machine to record everything he does.”