Duke has struggled since Feb. 20 when Zion Williamson, the most unique advantage on the court in college basketball, took a hard fall in Cameron Indoor Stadium in a saddening game against North Carolina.
These have been relatively dark times for Duke, but after a long three weeks of waiting, hope has finally been restored.
Williamson will be back on the court just in time for the ACC tournament tonight, as it was announced by the team Thursday morning. Williamson’s injury came within just seconds of tipoff against the Tobacco Road rivals after he slipped and broke his now infamous left shoe. After evaluation, the Spartanburg, S.C., native was diagnosed with a Grade 1 right knee sprain with Coach K noting that his recovery was “day-to-day.”
Now, 22 days later, Williamson is back to make up for lost time and bring a few dunks with him.
Williamson’s return is also timely as he was just named the ACC Player of the Year. Although he sat out the end of the season, Williamson’s outstanding performance during the rest of the season earned him the title over teammate R.J. Barrett.
While Williamson has been on the sidelines recovering, the Blue Devils have taken three hard losses out of the last six games played. The team had more defeats with Williamson out than with him in, as the regular season ended with five total losses. Of those three losses, two were against North Carolina. Now that Williamson is back, the Blue Devils are out for blood and will be here to prove that the third time’s a charm if the teams meet again Friday night.
Coach K also burned freshman Joey Baker’s redshirt in the meantime, and the 6-foot-7 forward debuted in a road game against Syracuse. Duke also struggled with 3-point shooting more than usual, as Jack White continued quite a slump. But with Williamson back to control the paint, the Blue Devils expect to enter the postseason as strong as they were when they premiered in the regular season.