Every college basketball fan’s worst nightmare was almost realized and we didn’t even know it. Zion Williamson actually wanted to go back to Duke for another year. Turns out, we actually have something to thank Coach K for. In a recent interview with Franklyn Calle of the Slam, he said:
“You get this college experience once,” he says. “If you’re in a situation like mine, where you’re one and done, I’m just trying to make the most of what I got. I love Duke, and honestly, I don’t want to leave. If I didn’t have as much at stake, I probably would stay for another year. But I can’t.
“Being at Duke was a dream come true for me. Everything about it. Looking to the sidelines, Whoa, that’s Coach K I’m playing for! Coach K is looking at me [and] telling me I’m built for this moment. I have a true brotherhood on and off the court. Everything was just a movie,” he says. “This was the best year of my life. So if I could come back for a second year I would, but unfortunately that’s just not the reality we live in. The reality we live in is [that] my ultimate dream is the NBA. It’s what I’ve been dreaming about as a kid so I have to pursue that. And I have to take care of my family.”
Probably didn’t want to take a pay cut.
The highest rated prospect since LeBron James not only went to college, but also had to be convinced to leave it. I get it. Playing for Duke and Coach K, experiencing Cameron Indoor and being the top story every single day had to have been incredible. But also, if I had to pick between having an incredible experience again or millions of dollars… I’m getting paid every day of the week and twice on Sunday.
This is absolutely insane to hear. Zion works his entire life to get himself to the place he is now and he really wanted to delay it for another year. Is cramming on Luke Maye really that fun? I would imagine so, but I wouldn’t pass up millions of dollars for that. Why would he want to risk another injury like the one he had a couple months ago just to lose in the first round to a 15 seed? He may be afraid of sharing the spotlight, because right now, it looks like he would rather play with Alex O’Connell than Anthony Davis.
Take this with every grain of salt imaginable due to the fact that Michael Avenatti is currently being accused of extortion, embezzlement and fraud by the very organization he is accusing. Read that story from CNBC here.
In recent weeks, Avenatti has come after several Nike schools trying to expose illegal recruiting methods. He has named Arizona for their recruitment of Deandre Ayton, Oregon for Bol Bol, and UNLV for Brandon McCoy.
He has laid out his “findings” about the 3 players in a recent tweet with a link to a PDF via Dropbox.
We all knew where Avenatti’s never ending crusade to take down Nike was going to end up. I will not get into his opponents in the past, but he loves to go after the biggest names. Now, he is going after the biggest names in college basketball: Coach K and Zion Williamson.
Avenatti even claims that he has some proof of fraudulent payments to Zion’s mother to secure his commitment.
Yikes. Zion is no stranger to these kinds of allegations either. In October, it was discovered that a Kansas assistant coach was caught on an FBI wiretap discussing a price tag for Zion’s commitment.
Look, I want to see Duke go down in flames just as much as everyone else, but if Nike is arranging payments for Duke, Arizona and Oregon, they are doing it for all of the other big programs too. I won’t believe it until I see some hard evidence.
Coach Mike Krzyzewski expects Zion Williamson to sit out yet again this weekend for Duke’s rematch versus North Carolina. The last game that Zion played was in a blowout loss to the Tar Heels; of which, he only played the first 30 seconds.
I won’t get into the injury and his Nikes exploding. I am sure ESPN has beaten that to death. With Zion out, I actually have no idea what they are doing for content. Thankfully for them, they have college basketball’s best rivalry this weekend. And Duke is out for blood.
But here’s the thing: no Zion, no chance. It is no secret that Duke is driving the struggle bus at this point. They lost to Virginia Tech, but a one point win at home versus a 11-17 Wake Forest team (and celebrating after) somehow seems worse. I know, a win is a win, but it was just ugly. Now they have to play UNC this Saturday. A team that beat them by 16 points already.
RJ Barrett and Cam Reddish combined for 60 of their 72 points that game. Expect the exact same thing this weekend. Another thing to expect? Luke Maye to absolutely BODY the Duke bigs yet again. It is always hard to watch a guy that I can beat 1-on-1 succeed, but it gets infinitely better when it is against Duke. UNC will be up by 20 going into the final minute, then Jack White will hit his first two three’s of the game and make it a 14 point loss.
Also, apparently there is still no timetable for Zion’s return. Coach K told CBS Sports, “He’s getting more confidence, and we just have to get him in shape… I don’t think he’ll be ready for Saturday. I have to be careful not to push this, but I would be surprised if he wasn’t ready by the ACC tournament.” I am sure the NCAA Tournament Selection Committee will take his absence into special consideration to make sure Duke still gets a 1 seed.
Last Wednesday, all of America got an early Christmas present. Mark Few and his Gonzaga Bulldogs handed Coach K and the Duke Blue Devils their first loss of the season and first ever loss in Maui, 89-87. Well, I should’ve left out that Coach K part. Mike Krzyzewski did not do anything except pick the starting line-up. If I were a Duke fan, I wouldn’t worry about this loss. I am sure the tournament selection committee is already hard at work on an excuse why to not count this loss against them.
Duke may have the best recruiting class of all time this season. Securing the top 3 recruits, no other team, including Kentucky, have a better group of freshman. Their top 3, R.J. Barrett, Zion Williamson, and Cam Reddish, have dominated. Barrett and Zion are averaging over 20 PPG and they have already beaten 2 top 10 teams. Pretty impressive, but since that 30+ point blowout versus Kentucky, every game has gotten sloppier. Coach K is getting complacent and it showed Wednesday night. He horribly mismanaged this game.
I wondered what would happen if they didn’t make their first 30 shots. How would they respond if the other team didn’t instantly concede defeat? I got my answer against Gonzaga. The Bulldogs punched Duke in the mouth from the beginning. These freshman had no idea what to do. For 25 straight minutes, Duke played down by at least 8 points. They were like lost little puppy dogs out there, but Coach K did nothing. He called a timeout or two if it was getting too bad, but nothing really changed. Yes, Duke ended up coming back in a scary way. Wasn’t K though. That was Barrett, Jones and Williamson taking over.
Now flash forward to the last 3 Duke possessions. Down by 2 points. R.J. Barrett has the ball and drives down the lane only to be blocked. Fine. I’m okay with this since he is their best player and the one you trust to get the job done. Gonzaga misses two free throws and Duke has the ball back. Barrett drives again in an isolation and is blocked again. Gonzaga misses two more free throws. A timeout is called. I cannot remember who called it, but Coach K definitely had enough time to set up a play for one of his amazing players and he just didn’t do it. You’re telling me that this supposed “best college basketball coach ever” didn’t have a single play in his 40 years of experience to get Reddish open for a game winning three? He couldn’t get Zion a mismatch in the post? He couldn’t even give Barrett a simple screen? No. Barrett got an iso for the third time in a row and got blocked yet again as time expired.
Mike Krzyzewski thought he had an easy 40-0 season already wrapped up. Take a lesson from Cal. No matter how good they are on paper, they’re still college kids. And being a college kid myself, I can attest to all of us being at least a little stupid. Coach K needs to actually coach these guys. He hasn’t yet and he failed. I can’t wait to see what kind of injury or illness ole Mike tries to use to get himself out of this one.