Zion Williamson isn’t going to be sidelined for long.
The Duke star and presumptive No. 1 NBA draft pick this June is considered day-to-day with a Grade 1 knee sprain suffered yesterday, the school announced Thursday.
It eliminates the worst-case scenarios that so many were fretting after Williamson’s shoe blew out, resulting in the injury just seconds into the No.1 Blue Devils’ eventual loss to rival North Carolina on Wednesday at Cameron Indoor Stadium.
College basketball, it would seem, will not be robbed from seeing its most electrifying star in more than a decade.
“There hasn’t been anyone close to having the attention, and well-deserved attention, as a player than Zion [Williamson]. He’s been absolutely dynamic, mesmerizing,” Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski said on ESPNU Radio on Sirius XM. “Everyone wants to see him play and not just because of the numbers he puts up, but the enthusiasm and just the personality that he’s showing, and how he’s handled all of this. And for him to go down 34 seconds into this amazing game, there was like a – it changed the whole mood of the whole place, you know, because, I mean we’re going to have a tough time beating North Carolina no matter what because they’re really good. And they were good against us.
“I think that everyone wants to know his status and it’s still – we don’t have a timetable, but the preliminary reports that we have on Zion’s injury are all optimistic – very, very good. And the fact that it’s a stable condition, a mild sprain, and we’re going to do what everyone would do, and that’s what’s in the best interest of the young man. And Zion will get proper care. He’s getting it today, as this moves along these next 24, 48 hours, we’ll have a better feel for things, but there’s no rush. You want to make sure he’s completely at 100 percent. We know we’re an NCAA [Tournament] team. We’ve won 23 games with great competition, and we’re going to keep moving on, but we want to be – want to make sure we’re at 100 percent when we enter that one-and-done period called March Madness.”
It likely won’t quiet the debate, however, about whether or not Williamson should suit up for Duke again, his health not withstanding. Given the fortune he stands to make in the NBA and the literal $0 Duke is paying him, it’s revitalized the discussion about what top-tier players should do – play or sit – if there is an injury concern.
Ultimately, Williamson’s shoe could have exploded, he could have stepped on someone’s foot or he could have taken off wrong on a dunk if he was practicing alone at the YMCA or under the bright lights of the game’s greatest rivalry. There’s only so much anyone can control, and if Williamson doesn’t think the risk of playing is overwhelming, there doesn’t seem much incentive to sit out the rest of the season. In reality, what type of injury could even derail him being the No. 1 overall pick come June, anyway? That list seems exceedingly small.
Given Duke’s announcement, though, it looks as though Williamson will be back in uniform before too long, making Duke the most entertaining team in the country when it matters most.