The Duke Blue Devils will be without the services of junior starting center Marques Bolden for the duration of the ACC tournament, but they will get a boost from another starter scheduled to return to the lineup for the postseason. Superstar freshman Zion Williamson is expected to make his long-awaited return from his grade one mild knee sprain in his right knee.
“We should be getting Zion back,” said Head Coach Mike Krzyzewski who is also more widely known as just “Coach K” on Monday.
He suffered the award fluke injury in opening minute of the team’s highly touted matchup with conference rival University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill on Duke’s home court in the infamous incident that went viral when his left foot seemingly exploded out of shoe as he was attempting to make a move on a Tar Heel defender.
The unfortunate irony of Bolden’s injury is that he too suffered a knee sprain, in the early portion of a game against none other than the very same Tarheels in which Williamson was injured. He was attempting to block a shot, as he leads the team in that category and like Zion, there is no time table for his return.
“There’s no way Marques will be ready for the ACC Tournament,” Krzyzewski said. “Whatever grade [the sprain] is, he’s not going to be well in one week.”
In the five games since he’s been out his team has gone 3-2 and even in their wins, they have struggled to dominate in the same way they did with him on the court and other players have had to pick up the slack in a major way to keep the team afloat.
Some thought that the fear of a further or repeat injury might be enough for Williamson, who is believed to be the No.1 draft pick in this year’s NBA, to consider shutting himself down and not returning to play collegiately for free since he has the top overall pick all but locked up.
On Monday it was announced that he was voted as ACC Player of the Year, to no one’s surprise after averaging over 21 points and nearly 10 rebounds prior to missing the final stretch of the season.
The Blue Devils enter the conference tournament ranked third in the standings and fifth nationally following their 70-79 loss to the Tar Heels on Saturday. Depending on how Williamson looks and performs coming off of his injury will ultimately dictate how far Duke can go in the postseason.