Zion Williamson, a star for Duke and the likely No. 1 pick in the 2019 NBA Draft, hasn’t considered sitting out the remainder of the Blue Devils’ season after suffering a knee injury in their loss to UNC on Wednesday.
Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski said Saturday that he had not discussed shutting down Williamson with the player or his family, despite speculation that the top prospect could opt to sit out in favor of focusing on draft preparation.
Williamson, who left the contest against the Tar Heels with a mild knee sprain after his shoe blew out 36 seconds into the game, missed Duke’s 75-65 win over Syracuse on Saturday. Krzyzewski said afterwards that the school’s medical personnel were being cautious in handling the situation, which is why he hasn’t been rushed back into action.
“We would never play a kid who’s not ready,” Krzyzewski said, via ESPN. “We would never play a youngster who didn’t want to play. It’s not about that. He wants to play. He loves being at Duke. He doesn’t like being injured. It’s an injury you can get over in a shorter period of time.
“There’s just a protocol that we have to go through to make sure he’s completely ready. We’re not rushing anything, so that’s why we said day-to-day because it’s literally day-to-day.”
Willamson’s return to the Blue Devils had not been considered a sure thing given the massive stakes concerning his professional career. Former Bulls star Scottie Pippen said recently that he thought Williamson should sit out the rest of the season because “he’s done enough for college basketball,” and shouldn’t risk further injury.
Getting Williamson back would be huge for the Blue Devils, who rebounded from the loss to UNC with the win over Syracuse. Williamson has averaged 21.6 points, 8.8 rebounds, 2.2 assists, 2.2 steals and 1.8 blocks in 26 games this season.