They say basketball is a brotherhood, and that was proven true from one college star to another shortly after the 2019 NCAA Tournament’s round of 32. Although Murray State Racers guard Ja Morant and his team suffered a tough second-round exit at the hands of the Florida State Seminoles, he made sure to show some love. And it came in the form of a message to Duke Blue Devils forward Zion Williamson.
Duke pulled out an intense 77-76 win over the nine-seed UCF Knights to advance to the Sweet 16 over the weekend, but it wasn’t without a major fight. The victory required a go-ahead putback from RJ Barrett with less than 14 seconds remaining and two UCF misses that barely rimmed out. After the game had wrapped up, Williamson took to Instagram and celebrated with a message.
Not surprisingly, one of the first players to respond and give a tip of the cap to the freshman phenom was Morant.
Morant, whose Instagram account is “igotgame12_” told him to “keep pushing” with a heart emoji.
Zion Williamson & Ja Morant’s AAU Days Together
As many fans found out through the early stages of the NCAA tournament, Williamson and Morant played on the same AAU team for a brief period. This was long before the duo began preparing for college basketball, though, as it was back in 2014-15 with the South Carolina Hornets on the regional circuit.
At the time, Williamson was a freshman while Morant was a sophomore, but the latter’s father even detailed how his son was throwing alley-oops to Zion back in the day, per Matt Norlander of CBS Sports. Morant’s father, Tee, spoke about the game when the current Blue Devils star began drawing major attention.
“I guess the rest of the athleticism had to kick in, but he was catching alley-oops from Ja then. I think the game he really opened a lot of people’s eyes, one kid went up for a layup and he tried to put it high off the glass and Zion looked like he went to the top of the square and pinned it. It was a big tournament, everyone went crazy, and that went viral.”
Zion Williamson’s Red-Hot Start to NCAA Tournament
Williamson tied Kevin Durant’s freshman record for most points scored in their first two tournament games with 57, per ESPN Stats & Info. His second-round performance against UCF was simply exceptional, as he tallied 32 points on 12-of-24 shooting (3-of-7 from deep), with 11 rebounds and four assists.
With the Blue Devils now heading into the Sweet 16 for a date with ACC foe Virginia Tech, they’ll be tested once again, as the Hokies defeated them once this season already. Fortunately for Duke, that loss came in Blacksburg and was one of the games which Williamson missed with a knee injury.