Mike Krzyzewski: Zion Williamson will return to play at Duke despite bevy of NBA opinions

SYRACUSE, N.Y. – Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski called the day after the Blue Devils’ home loss to North Carolina on Wednesday “one of the toughest 24 hours I’ve had as the coach at Duke.” He referenced the referendum on amateurism that the injury to Zion Williamson prompted, and declared that “everybody has opinions about everything.”

After No. 1 Duke’s 75-65 victory at Syracuse on Saturday night, Krzyzewski made clear Williamson would return to play for Duke. This came amid many loud opinions that he should sit and preserve himself for the NBA draft. “He wants to play,” Krzyzewski said. “He loves being at Duke.”

A flurry of NBA players encouraged Williamson to stop playing. DeMarcus Cousins said “college is bull—-.”Isaiah Thomas encouraged him to “sit yo ass down.”Trae Young told him to “chill out” for the rest of the season. They reiterated the advice that Hall of Famer Scottie Pippen first gave earlier in the season. Krzyzewski said there was no talk of that from Williamson or his family: “No,” he said. “None. A lot of people like to talk.”

Krzyzewski added: “He’s handled everything all year great. He’s such a great kid. We would never play a kid who’s not ready to play. We’d never play a youngster who didn’t want to play. So, it’s not about that.”

See photos from Williamson's freak injury: 

8 PHOTOS
Zion Williamson suffers knee injury after shoe 'explodes'
See Gallery
Zion Williamson suffers knee injury after shoe 'explodes'
Duke's Zion Williamson (1) falls to the court under North Carolina's Luke Maye (32), injuring himself and damaging his shoe during the opening moments of the game in the first half on Wednesday, Feb. 20, 2019, at Cameron Indoor Stadium in Durham, N.C. (Robert Willett/Raleigh News & Observer/TNS via Getty Images)
Duke's Zion Williamson (1) falls to the floor with an injury while chasing the ball with North Carolina's Luke Maye (32) during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game in Durham, N.C., Wednesday, Feb. 20, 2019. (AP Photo/Gerry Broome)
Duke forward Zion Williamson holds his knee after injuring himself and damaging his shoe during the opening moments of the game in the first half on Wednesday, Feb. 20, 2019, at Cameron Indoor Stadium in Durham, N.C. (Chuck Liddy/Raleigh News & Observer/TNS via Getty Images)
DURHAM, NORTH CAROLINA - FEBRUARY 20: Zion Williamson #1 of the Duke Blue Devils reacts after falling as his shoe breaks against Luke Maye #32 of the North Carolina Tar Heels during their game at Cameron Indoor Stadium on February 20, 2019 in Durham, North Carolina. (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)
DURHAM, NORTH CAROLINA - FEBRUARY 20: A detailed view of the shoe worn by Zion Williamson #1 of the Duke Blue Devils against the North Carolina Tar Heels during their game at Cameron Indoor Stadium on February 20, 2019 in Durham, North Carolina. (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)
DURHAM, NC - FEBRUARY 20: Zion Williamson #1 of the Duke Blue Devils picks up his broken shoe in the first half against the North Carolina Tar Heels at Cameron Indoor Stadium on February 20, 2019 in Durham, North Carolina. (Photo by Lance King/Getty Images)
Duke's Zion Williamson sits on the floor following an injury during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game against North Carolina, in Durham, N.C., Wednesday, Feb. 20, 2019. Duke might have to figure out what the Zion Show will look like without its namesake. All because of a freak injury to arguably the most exciting player in college basketball. As his Nike shoe blew out, Williamson sprained his right knee on the first possession of what became top-ranked Duke's 88-72 loss to No. 8 North Carolina. (AP Photo/Gerry Broome)
A trainer holds Duke's Zion Williamson's shoes after Williamson left the game due to an injury during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game against North Carolina in Durham, N.C., Wednesday, Feb. 20, 2019. Duke might have to figure out what the Zion Show will look like without its namesake. All because of a freak injury to arguably the most exciting player in college basketball. As his Nike shoe blew out, Williamson sprained his right knee on the first possession of what became top-ranked Duke's 88-72 loss to No. 8 North Carolina. (AP Photo/Gerry Broome)
HIDE CAPTION
SHOW CAPTION
of
SEE ALL
BACK TO SLIDE

Krzyzewski made it appear that Williamson will return soon.

“It’s an injury you can get over in a shorter period of time,” he said. “There’s just a protocol we have to go through to make sure he’s completely ready. We’re not going to rush anything. That’s why we said ‘day-to-day,’ because it’s literally day-to-day.”

Williamson, the presumed No. 1 pick in the 2019 NBA draft, traveled with the team to Syracuse and was his typical boisterous self on the Duke bench. He cheered on his freshman classmate RJ Barrett, the presumed No. 2 pick, who had 30 points on 14-for-20 shooting.

Krzyzewski said they were wondering whether to bring Williamson, as there would be inherent distractions with the furor that surrounded his injury. But he did for a simple reason. Williamson told him: “Coach, I want to be with my guys.” Krzyzewski added that he told him: “OK, just be you on the bench and be you in the locker room and he was.”

Soon enough, he’ll be with them on the floor as well.

More from Yahoo Sports:
Panthers’ Reid rips ‘false narratives’ about Kaepernick
Sohi: DeRozan loves and loses again in Toronto return
Sources: Warriors’ Green close to hiring LeBron’s agent
Report: Harper meeting with Phillies owner in Las Vegas

Read Full Story

Sign up for Breaking News by AOL to get the latest breaking news alerts and updates delivered straight to your inbox.

Subscribe to our other newsletters

Emails may offer personalized content or ads. Learn more. You may unsubscribe any time.