Zion Williamson has officially declared for the 2019 NBA Draft, as he announced via Instagram on Monday. His declaration is the final of the three expected to come from Duke, and like his teammates Zion is likely to be signing with an agent, being the face of basketball and all. Unless the general manager of the NBA Draft lottery winner is suddenly without a brain, Zion will go #1 in the draft, no question about it.
All we can say is that while this wasn’t unexpected, thank you, Zion. Thank you for making this season as unforgettable as it was. Thank you for making fans across America jump and yell with electrifying dunks. Thank you for being the spark for your team like no other player on earth. Thank you for fighting, fighting, fighting every second for this team. But thank you most of all for being yourself: for loving the game, for grinning and laughing and being so happy all the time to make the game so much fun for everyone. Zion Williamson is every reason why we love the game of basketball.
Bleed blue. Look for updates as Matthew Hurt, one of the final recruits on the list for Coach K and Duke this year, makes his decision on Friday. All signs have pointed to his interest in going to Duke, especially after fellow Minnesota native Tre Jones announced his plans to return to Durham. Additionally, Hurt’s father canceled visits from two of the four head coaches that he’s considering playing for, which certainly isn’t a good sign for those programs (neither of which are Duke; the two were John Calipari of Kentucky and Bill Self of Kansas).
Tired of all the speculation over Zion’s NBA future? Well, we’ve got a Zion article that doesn’t deal with any of that: ESPN’s Mina Kimes looks into not the player but the person. She notes that the Williamson family has mostly avoided the spotlight, turning down a lot of interview requests including that for the story she wrote. But Spartanburg Day, the 450-student school in Spartanburg, SC, that he attended, holds not only Zion’s trophies but his story from high school. Zion did not attend one of the big “basketball schools” for high school such as Montverde Academy in Florida like his roommate RJ Barrett, but instead a small school in South Carolina. Additionally, he interviews one of Zion’s favorite teachers from high school, Mr. Bill Pell, who taught him a creative writing course. The human behind the player is something that we haven’t seen much before and is a really cool guy. Anyway, here’s the article.
Acquiring the crowning jewel for his collection of awards, Zion Williamson has been officially named the 2018-2019 John R. Wooden Player of the Year. The college game’s most prestigious award would’ve been a very tough decision in the absence of Zion, with incredible players from Ja Morant to RJ Barrett to Grant Williams in the running. However, Zion’s season made it quite clear that little consideration would be necessary: this is one of the best player’s we’ve seen grace a college court.
After the AP NPOY Award, the Naismith Award, the Karl Malone Award, and the Wooden trophy (and that’s not even the full list!), I’m guessing that the Williamson family is going to need a bigger shelf.
Zion Williamson, surprisingly enough, has not yet declared for the NBA Draft. He was somewhat emotional talking about how much he would miss his teammates during the interview after receiving the Wooden Award, but he reiterated what he said after the Karl Malone Award: a definitive “I don’t know.” He has, as of this Saturday morning, 8 days to decide as the deadline is April 21. He was considered pretty much a lock to leave considering that he is going to be the #1 pick in the draft, but there’s been speculation on the subject.
One year ago, Wendell Carter, Jr, considered a sophomore year at Duke (can you imagine that?). Yet, he decided on his birthday to depart Durham and was ultimately drafted to the Bulls, who I’m rooting for to win the lottery so I can see Wendell and Zion together. There could be a similar situation with Zion. I don’t want to convince him stay, as that may not be what’s best for his family (as much as we as Duke fans want it so badly).
Bleed blue. I can’t wait until this agony is over on April 22.
Duke’s superstars of 2018-19, RJ Barrett and Zion Williamson, have collected their first trophies of the night at ESPN’s College Basketball Awards, each in their respective positions. RJ, who declared for the NBA Draft just two days ago, won the Jerry West Award for the best shooting guard in the country, while Zion netted the Karl Malone Award for power forwards.
Zion was up against stout competition in Kansas’ Dedric Lawson and Tennessee’s Grant Williams among others but even having missed six games in February, it was no contest. He averaged 22.6 points per game, 8.9 rebounds, 1.8 blocks, 2.1 steals, and 68% from the field. As has been said throughout the year, those are video game numbers. From the absolutely out-of-nowhere dunks to the “poetry in motion” (his description of the electrifying dunks), Zion Williamson was the face of college basketball because of the greatness that is expected to lead him to the John R. Wooden Award later tonight.
RJ Barrett also faced a tough group, but also emerged as one of the best players in the game, not to mention at his position. RJ matched Zion’s point average in the season with 22.6 points per game, as well as having emerged as one of the best defensive rebounders on the team. As previously mentioned, RJ has declared for the NBA Draft.
More to come when the Wooden Award is named, and we’re all pretty sure that we know who will win the men’s award. Bleed blue.
Zion Williamson, shocking the world, is officially the third freshmen in the history of the award to win Naismith Player of the Year! (That was a joke). He’s among renowned previous recipients: the other two freshmen to win it are currently two of the best players in the NBA today, Anthony Davis (2012) and Kevin Durant (2007). Zion won the award over fellow rookie Ja Morant of Murray State but also upperclassmen Rui Hachimura of Gonzaga and Grant Williams of Tennessee. The award is usually given to older players, but Zion’s freshman season was electrifying enough that even with missing 5 99/100 games late in the regular season, it wasn’t close.
Zion is the eighth Duke player to win the award, but surprisingly enough the first since JJ Redick in 2006. Now, all eyes lie on the voters for the Wooden Award. Only Zion’s youth stands between him and the final piece to his phenomenal trophy case, but if you’re a voter, are you really going to pass over a season like his because of his age?
Instead of the season that would’ve been, this season is always going to have that part that could have been. An incredible season ended in heartbreak for the Duke Blue Devils of 2019 as a go-ahead three-pointer from Michigan State’s Kenny Goins put the Spartans ahead by two– for good. We’ve had an amazing time with this team and there will never, ever be anything else like them.
Duke came back from down 7 to go up 9 in the first half after a sluggish start. However, MSU went on a 13-0 run to end the first. These kinds of games are so difficult to swallow because any one play– any one– could’ve changed the outcome completely. It was back and forth to the very end from there. Cassius Winston, Michigan State’s veteran point guard, went off for 20 points and 10 assists. For Duke, Zion Williamson had 24 points and 14 rebounds while teammate and roommate RJ Barrett had 21. Tre Jones struggled offensively with 4 points and 5 assists.
I haven’t brought myself to watch it, but if you want to here it is. RJ Barrett consoles Tre Jones in the locker room after the game. Tre had Cassius Winston on the final inbound, who ultimately ended up running out the clock. Tre and his family have been through so much emotionally– his mother’s cancer diagnosis, primarily– and for it to end like this is just heart-wrenching.
Now, for the excruciating wait: Zion Williamson, RJ Barrett, Cam Reddish, and Tre Jones all have huge decisions to make. Two of them seem pretty straightforward as Zion and RJ could be the two first picks in the draft this year. Cam’s performance this year (love him, but it’s true) has been inconsistent but his potential puts him as even a possible lottery pick. He’s an underrated defender and has one of the most beautiful shots we’ve ever seen. Tre is projected in possibly even the first round but could return to work on his offensive skillset as a scorer, something he hasn’t done a lot this season though what his defense have done for us this season is inestimable.
Bleed blue. Thank you to all of our Blue Devils for making this season simply unforgettable.
Duke survived yet another nailbiter against another familiar, scrappy, and hot team with a Sweet Sixteen win over Virginia Tech, 75-73. Hats off to the Hokies for a game exceptionally well played. They were down 7 with 2:39 minutes to go, but battled back to contest it to the very end. However, the “will to win” for these young Blue Devils, as Coach K put it earlier this season, wouldn’t be defeated. Tre Jones had a career high 22 points on 5-7 shooting after going 1-10 in the previous two contests. With two points to go and 1.6 seconds remaining and Duke clinging to a two-point lead, Ahmed Hill missed the put-back layup off the lob from Justin Robinson that would’ve sent it to overtime. Duke is Elite Eight-bound.
Tre Jones was one of the biggest factors in this game, delivering with power. Tre is going through a difficult emotional time: Tre and Tyus’ mother, Mrs. Debbie Jones, was recently diagnosed with breast cancer just before the tournament. “I’m playing for my mama,” Tre said to CBS Sports’ Tracy Wolfson. Such an amazing performance for a guy who’s battling through the adversity alongside his mother. All the best to the Jones family; we know that fighters come from that family.
Zion Williamson had another great game with 23 points, 6 rebounds, and some huge blocks to lead all scorers. RJ Barrett struggled to score in the first half but had no trouble involving others, with 7 of his 11 assists coming in the opening period. He came storming back in the second, though, with 15 points towards a total of 18.
Cam Reddish was a sudden loss for this game; he’s dealing with a left leg issue. There’s no timetable for his return as the decision over his availability didn’t come until mid-first half.
Now approaches a matchup with Michigan State, who crushed a good but inconsistent LSU team. That game will be on Sunday, but the time for that game is yet to be announced.
Bleed blue. By the way? WASSUP WASSUP AYYY, ELITE EIGHT.