The first meeting of Duke and North Carolina this season got off to a rough start when Zion Williamson was taken out of the game in the opening minute with a knee injury. As Williamson drove the ball into the teeth of the Tar Heel defense, his left foot busted out of his shoe and he went down clutching his right knee. Duke has listed him as day-to-day.
Williamson did not return. Here’s a look at the play, which happened just 33 seconds into the game.
“He broke his shoe with his own foot,” said ESPN broadcaster Dan Shulman.
The injury is thankfully just a Grade 1 knee sprain, and the team listed him as day-to-day. Williamson would miss the rest of the regular season for Duke, a five-game stretch where the team went 3-2 in his absence.
Williamson is expected to return in the ACC tournament, according to Coach K.
K: Initial diagnosis on Bolden is MCL sprain. Not sure how severe. Also said Zion expected to play in ACC Tournament and take on contract in practice Monday.— Pat Forde (@YahooForde) March 10, 2019
This is what Williamson’s shoe looked like after the play:
Early in the game, any hope that Williamson might return was quickly squashed.
Zion Williamson's stepdad just came out from the locker room to bring his mom back.— Adam Rowe (@AdamRoweTDD) February 21, 2019
Not a good sign.
Nolan Smith just came back to the bench from the locker room and shook his head when asked question from assistant Jon Scheyer. Just a guess — but don’t think we’ll be seeing Zion again tonight.— Jeff Goodman (@GoodmanHoops) February 21, 2019
Williamson, the likely No. 1 pick in the NBA Draft, on the season is averaging 21.6 points and 8.8 rebounds, shooting 68 percent from the field.
At the start of the second half, Maria Taylor on ESPN said on Williamson, “He’s in the back still in the training room with his family, watching on TV. I’m told he did not go into the locker room [at halftime] as the rest of the team went in to hear from Coach K.”
North Carolina prevailed in the game, winning 88-72 at Duke.