Coach K: Zion Williamson expected to return at ACC tournament

Jack BaerWriter
Yahoo Sports
We finally have a return date from Duke for <a class="link rapid-noclick-resp" href="/ncaab/players/147096/" data-ylk="slk:Zion Williamson">Zion Williamson</a>. (Getty Images)
We finally have a return date from Duke for Zion Williamson. (Getty Images)

Six games and three losses since losing Zion Williamson to a shoe-related knee sprain, it appears Duke basketball is getting back its freshman phenom.

After a second loss to rival North Carolina on Saturday, Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski told reporters that he expects Williamson to be back when Duke begins its ACC tournament run on Thursday, per Yahoo Sports’ Pat Forde.

Krzyzewski also said Duke center Marques Bolden had been diagnosed with an MCL sprain of unknown severity after leaving in the opening minutes of Saturday’s game.

Zion Williamson expected back for ACC Tournament

“I think we’ll get Zion back for Thursday,” Krzyzewski said. “He worked out this morning, again no-contact, but Monday there will be. Hopefully, we’ll get a couple good days of practice where he can play five-on-five and see how that goes. The way he looks right now, I think it’s just a matter of getting in shape, getting in game shape going forward.”

Krzyzewski had previously said he expects Williamson to return for the ACC tourney, so it looks like the recovery process is going as planned.

What Zion Williamson can still do at Duke

With his injury, Williamson lost a chance to help Duke win an ACC regular season title or beat North Carolina, but there is plenty he can still do in what figures to be his lone college basketball postseason.

With its loss to Carolina on Saturday, Duke was locked into the 3-seed for the ACC tournament. Duke will face one of Syracuse, Boston College and Pittsburgh in the tournament’s quarterfinals on Thursday, with Syracuse being the most likely opponent.

With Gonzaga, Kentucky, Virginia and North Carolina all having strong résumés, Duke may need to win the ACC tournament to get a No. 1 seed for the NCAA tournament, which would likely require beating its two conference rivals. A Duke team with a healthy Williamson can certainly do that, but it’s definitely not a position we’d thought Duke would find itself in a month ago.

After that, March Madness gets into full swing. Since transitioning his program to rely on one-and-dones, Krzyzewski has won a national title once with the Jahlil Okafor-Justise Winslow-Tyus Jones team. All eyes will be on Williamson to see if another one comes back to Durham.

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