Zion Williamson Injury: Will the Duke Forward Play Tonight Vs. Wake Forest?

Getty Zion Williamson #1 of the Duke Blue Devils reacts as he watches his team play against the Miami Hurricanes.

Duke Basketball has confirmed that star freshman forward Zion Williamson will miss another game tonight, as the Blue Devils host the Wake Forest Demon Deacons in their home finale (7 p.m. EST, ESPN).

Per Duke Basketball’s Twitter announcement:

Williamson’s absence in tonight’s last home game means his brief appearance against North Carolina will be his last time playing at Cameron, assuming he declares for the NBA Draft as the presumptive No. 1 pick.

The star freshman left the Duke’s loss versus the rival Tar Heels on Feb. 20 after his right shoe, a Paul George model, gave out 33 seconds into the game. It caused a Grade 1 knee sprain, forcing him to miss road games versus Syracuse (win) and Virginia Tech (loss). The Blue Devils obliterated Miami by 30 this past Saturday with him, as well.

His return is considered uncertain, but he is reportedly in Phase 4 of a 4-phase recovery, according to Jon Rothstein.

Williamson has been one of the best players in college basketball. Heavy.com projects him to go No. 1 in the NBA Draft, meaning he would team up with last year’s top pick in Phoenix Suns center Deandre Ayton. He’s averaging 21.6 points and 8.8 rebounds per game, while also swatting 1.8 shots a contest.

His 75.3 percent rate on twos in ranked No. 3 nationally per Ken Pomeroy.

Mike Krzyzewski has so far deflected rumors that Duke is considering shutting down Williamson. The Duke head coach says that Williamson is itching to return, but at the right time.

“There’s just a protocol that we have to go through to make sure he’s completely ready [to play],” said the Duke head coach. “We’re not rushing anything, so that’s why we said day-to-day because it’s literally day-to-day.”

“He doesn’t like being injured. It’s an injury you can get over in a shorter period of time.”

Duke Since Zion Has Been Unavailable

With Williamson sidelined, fellow freshman and former 5-star R.J. Barrett racked up 30 points on 14-of-20 shooting and chipped in seven assists to lead Duke to the 75-65 victory at Syracuse on Feb. 23. Sophomore guard Alex O’Connell added a career-high 20 points and connected on five of his eight 3-point attempts in the Blue Devils’ victory.

They followed that up with a poor defensive performance at Virginia Tech. Without Williamson’s looming presence, the Hokies racked up 1.22 points per possession in a 77-72 upset win. Nobody could stop forward Kerry Blackshear, who bullied his way to 23 points, including a 9-for-11 effort at the free throw line.

Four Blue Devils scored in double figures in the rout over the Hurricanes.

The Blue Devils (25-4, 13-3 ACC) trail Virginia by 1.5 games and North Carolina by a full one for first place in the conference standings. Wake Forest (11-17, 4-12 ACC) is the third-worst team in the conference.

Duke throttled Wake Forest in a 87-65 decision back on Jan. 8 in Winston-Salem. Williamson tallied 30 points on just 12 shots.

Zion Williamson Highlights vs. Wake Forest (1/8/19) – 30 PTS, 10 REB, 5 AST, 4 STL, 1 BLK2019-01-09T02:59:20.000Z

The Demon Deacons haven’t beaten Duke since an 82-72 upset on March 5, 2014. They hold a 9-game losing streak in the series since then.

Williamson could return for a rematch with North Carolina in Chapel Hill this Saturday in the regular-season finale.

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