How Far Can Duke Go Without Williamson?
The hearts of nearly every Carolinian, not rooting for the Tarheels, and every Blue Devils fans everywhere sunk to the floor simultaneously when sensational freshman forward Zion Williamson went down awkwardly with an apparent injury to his right knee in just the first 33 seconds of the team’s highly touted bout with rival UNC-Chapel Hill last night. Williamson planted his left foot and turned to make a move to his right with a defender to his back when his right foot slipped from underneath him and his knee twisted inward. The violent pronation of his knee when he went down even caused his left foot to explode through his shoe. He was taken back into the locker room and was declared out for the game shortly after. Head Coach Mike Krzyzewski, commonly known as Coach K, disclosed after the game that Williams was examined by team doctors and trainers the early indication is that he suffered a mild knee sprain and that there is no time table for his return as of yet, but that he will be reevaluated in the coming days. Duke was never able to recover from the initial shock that Zion’s injury had on them early on and the Tarheels took full advantage of the fact that the Blue Devils were without their best defender and the most dominant presence in the paint in all of college basketball. This resulted in a nearly 20-point blowout on their home court 88-72 and they never seemed to be in the game after their star went out in the first half minute of the game. UNC imposed their will on their hobbled host and scored 62 points in the paint compared to just 28 for Duke who was without their monster on the glass. This setback comes at the worst possible time for the Blue Devils as March Madness is just a week away and they will be without the best player in the country, who is widely projected to be selected as the first overall pick in this year’s NBA draft for the foreseeable future. Fellow projected top five picks for the upcoming draft in RJ Barrett and Cam Reddish will have to pick up the slack and step up in a major way if Duke intends to make it past the second weekend of the NCAA tournament next month if they won’t have Zion for some time. Even though this injury doesn’t appear to be too serious or threaten to shut him down for the rest of the season, this injury could make Williamson second guess coming back to play this season at all. With the NBA right on the horizon and the first overall pick essentially locked up some believe that he should sit out the rest of the season and that this injury might be the scare that spooks him into doing so. Ohio State’s defensive end Nick Bosa, brother of Los Angeles Chargers Pro Bowl defensive end, is widely viewed as the first overall pick in this year’s upcoming NFL draft that will take place in April decided to sit out the rest of his final season with the Buckeyes after suffering an abdominal injury that required surgery. He decided to instead focus on rehab and preparing exclusively for the next level and some pundit believes that this injury could make Williamson consider taking the same route.