Zion ignored the haters and returns to the court tonight to resume Duke’s quest for another ACC and NCAA Tournament title.
Despite Duke’s winning history, legendary coach and bevy of young elite talent, the “Zion Effect” has proved to be the pendulum swinging influence when it comes to the fate of this Blue Devils team and how far the public thinks they can advance in the ACC Tournament. Then the NCAA Tourney.
Zion’s absence meant that much.
Those analysts are surely backtracking today as it was announced that Zion is back for the ACC Tournament, which kicks off tonight as Duke opens up against Syracuse.
After getting off to a hot start behind the captivating and dominating play of projected NBA first overall pick Zion Williamson, Duke has stumbled to a 3-3 record since his Nike sneaker exploded 36 seconds into a game against North Carolina.
All hell broke loose in college basketball, with opinions running rampant about what Zion should do going forward. Should he risk a lucrative and inevitable NBA bag just to play in some meaningless college games, where everyone benefits financially from his performance except him?
With Zion’s return up in the air, Duke was no longer the lockdown favorite to win the 2019 NCAA title.
His return, however, spells doom for Syracuse, who had a puncher’s chance of winning with Zion sidelined. With the media frenzy, excitement and inspiration that his return brings to Duke and the college basketball stage, Cuse’s chances of pulling an upset has plummeted.
Williamson’s knee strain wasn’t serious enough for him to consider shutting it down for the season. And while these games may have little financial incentive for the 6-foot-7 athletically freakish baller, they mean the world to ACC fans, his teammates who aren’t NBA bound after this season and the basketball community at large.
The sports community has been thirsting to see the 8th wonder of the world return to the court.
Fellow Duke freshman RJ Barrett improved his NBA stock with solid scoring performances and decent leadership in Zion’s absence. He held down the fort and now that Williamson is back, Duke’s freshman triumvirate is reunited and ready to continue the goal of bringing a title to Durham.