Williamson doesn’t let a bad sneaker keep him down

NBA greatness beckons for Zion Williamson

Zion Williamson

It was the exhale heard ’round the basketball world.

When Zion Williamson’s sneaker gave out during a mid-February game and caused Duke’s star power forward to crumple to the floor with an injured left knee, fears immediately ran rampant as to whether the probable top pick in this summer’s NBA Draft had a torn ACL and thus wouldn’t be able to play again this season or even be the same player.

But those worries were put to rest when the diagnosis came back that he had a mild knee sprain and his status was day-to-day.

So New York Knicks, Phoenix Suns, Chicago Bulls and Cleveland Cavaliers, you can breathe easy now. Your prospective franchise savior is still intact.

When healthy, the 18-year-old freshman from South Carolina is a freakish blend of speed, strength and leaping ability, who at 6 feet 7 inches and 285 pounds has been described as a once-in-a-generation talent that has drawn comparisons to Charles Barkley, Larry Johnson and even LeBron James. And Washington Wizards’ John Wall has likened Williamson’s dunking ability to that of legendary NBA acrobat Vince Carter.

His stats as of late February warrant all the interest:  21.6 points and 8.8 rebounds per game with an eye-popping 68.3 field goal percentage, while playing primarily power forward but also occasionally small forward and even center.

Williamson and the top-ranked Duke Blue Devils can be seen in action this week in the 2019 NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament – aka “March Madness” – which gets underway Tuesday, March 19, and airs on truTV, CBS, TBS and TNT.

Zion Williamson

Full name: Zion Lateef Williamson

Birth date: July 6, 2000

Birthplace: Salisbury, N.C. (raised in Spartanburg, S.C.)

Height/weight: 6 feet 7 inches/285 pounds

Teams: Duke Blue Devils (2019-present)

Position: power forward

No.: 1

Honors and achievements: McDonald’s All-American (2018); South Carolina Mr. Basketball (2018); Jordan Brand Classic (2018); Nike Hoop Summit (2018)

George Dickie

George Dickie

George Dickie has been a features writer for Gracenote/Tribune Media Services since 1989, when “Hee-Haw” was still on the air and George “Goober” Lindsay was his first interview. His early interviews ranged from Jim Henson and Dick Van Dyke to Phil Collins and the Dixie Chicks.

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