Duke star freshman Zion Williamson will “day-to-day” as he recovers from a Grade 1 knee sprain, the school announced on Thursday.
Less than a minute into the Blue Devils’ 88-72 loss to North Carolina on Wednesday, Williamson suffered the right knee sprain on a bizarre play that saw the 6-7 forward’s shoe blow apart when he planted his foot.
He immediately clutched at his legs upon going down, and shortly after went to the locker room. Duke then announced that he was shut down for the rest of the game and afterwards coach Mike Krzyzewski told the media that the injury was a “mild sprain” and that Williamson’s knee was “stable.”
The major concern for Duke was that Williamson, the projected No. 1 pick in the NBA draft, would shut it down the rest of the season as the health scare illuminated the concern for elite pro prospects risking their future by playing at the NCAA level.
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The Blue Devils (23-3, 11-2) currently hold the top overall No. 1 seed in the projected NCAA tournament field but the selection committee would’ve examined a Zion-less Duke team when assigning seeds on Selection Sunday, possibly pushing the Blue Devils to the No. 2 or No. 3 line. If Williamson is back to full strength by Selection Sunday, the selection committee will provide leeway for any outcomes that occur with the national player of the year candidate out of the lineup. The team has five regular-season contests before the ACC tournament tips off.
Duke, North Carolina and Virginia are in a three-way tie for first place in the ACC title race. The Blue Devils face a Syracuse team they lost to earlier this season at 6 p.m. ET on Saturday. Duke is 1-1 without Williamson since he missed almost all of the team’s last-second win over Florida State earlier this season.