Zion Williamson Returns to the Court for Duke

CHARLOTTE — For once since his left sneaker split open 30 seconds after tipoff of a game last month, the Duke superstar Zion Williamson took the court on Thursday night, for a quarterfinal against Syracuse inside Atlantic Coast Conference Tournament.

As Duke took the court to warm up, Williamson assumed a place inside team’s layup lines. On his third trip through, he put down a slam with his dominant left hand along with showed no signs of the knee injury sustained when the shoe exploded.

An “oooh” came by the crowd.

He was the first member of Duke’s starting several to be introduced pregame: “A 6-foot-7 freshman by Spartanburg, South Carolina: Zion Williamson!”

He won the opening tip-off for the Blue Devils, along with scored their first points on an inside layup.

Barely two minutes had gone by when he brought Duke fans in attendance to their feet, intercepting a Syracuse pass along with taking which all the way to the some other end for a thunderous dunk.

yet which also presented a more immediate problem for Duke: A national title contender, the Blue Devils were suddenly without their best player, the freshman who can be required to be the No. 1 overall pick in which year’s N.B.A. draft.

Before Williamson’s injury, the Blue Devils were 23-2 along with ranked No. 1 inside country. inside three weeks between then along with tipoff against Syracuse, they dropped to No. 5 while going 3-3, including a loss to their archrivals, the North Carolina Tar Heels, on the night his Nike sneaker exploded.

along with if you were wondering: Williamson wore Nikes on Thursday, in a style named for the Boston Celtics star Kyrie Irving, who played one season at Duke. The sneaker which split was a Paul George signature Nike.

Duke announced hours before Thursday’s game which Williamson could return against Syracuse, which had a 20-12 record which included a victory over Duke in Durham, N.C., at a time when the Blue Devils’ star was healthy.

With Williamson at full strength or close to which, Duke should be a favorite to win the national championship, which could be its first since 2015 along with the sixth of Coach Mike Krzyzewski’s career.

Duke can be also nearly a lock to be no lower than a No. 2 seed inside national tournament bracket, though by the time the field can be announced on Sunday, the selection committee might have extrapolated Duke’s power using a healthy Williamson forward along with slotted which as a top seed.