first_img Comments Throughout the year, players and coaches have said Duke’s Zion Williamson does things on the basketball court that they’ve never seen before. On Wednesday night, he did just that. Less than a minute into Duke’s game against North Carolina, his Nike sneaker split and ripped while he was trying to plant his left foot. Nothing Williamson, 18, does is routine. But as his sneaker ripped, he also clutched his right knee, which has become cause for concern. A 6-foot-7, 285-pound freshman sensation and the projected No. 1 pick in the 2019 NBA Draft walked toward the locker room on his own. Afterward, Duke head coach Mike Krzyzewski called it a “mild knee sprain,” and Williamson will not play against Syracuse on Saturday, according to multiple reports. When Syracuse (18-8, 9-4 Atlantic Coast) hosts No. 1 Duke (23-3, 11-2) on Saturday, SU won’t have to deal with Williamson, one of college basketball’s most unique talents. In SU’s 95-91 upset of the Blue Devils last month, Williamson put up 35 points, 10 rebounds and four blocks. Hall of Fame coaches have said there’s no one like him.“He’s hard to handle,” Syracuse head coach Jim Boeheim said following the Orange’s win last month. “It’s hard to defend him. He’s a physical specimen.”Added Boeheim this week: “I haven’t seen a player really like him in my coaching career. So explosive.”AdvertisementThis is placeholder textWhen junior guard Tyus Battle was asked about Williamson on Wednesday night, he started to say he was the “best” but couldn’t find the noun. He settled on “amazing athlete.” Williamson burned the Orange on second-chance opportunities by out-anticipating and out-leaping SU in Durham. But Syracuse won’t have to deal with that threat Saturday.Battle has a sense for Williamson’s sweet spot: He loves to go left and finish with his left hand. Beyond that, Williamson may be most dangerous in transition, soaring toward the rim. The first time these teams met, SU had an answer for Williamson on one fastbreak: Marek Dolezaj, who’s listed as weighing 105 pounds less than the Duke phenom. He didn’t flinch, though, when he took a charge against Williamson — who’d be the second-heaviest player in the NBA right now. Williamson’s size, explosiveness and craftiness inside makes him nearly impossible to guard. Out of Williamson’s 26 collegiate games, he’s scored 25-plus points on at least 75 percent shooting eight separate times, as efficient a player the game has seen. Since the 2010-11 season, Syracuse has had a player of 10 games with those stats achieved. Here’s Marek Dolezaj taking a charge on Zion Williamson. Zion listed as 285 pounds. Marek listed as 180 pounds.— Billy Heyen (@Wheyen3) January 15, 2019 Published on February 22, 2019 at 11:37 am Contact Matthew: | @MatthewGut21center_img Facebook Twitter Google+ Williamson can dunk from the foul line, and most of his thunderous dunks make highlight reels. Duke head coach Mike Krzyzewski declared him “the best athlete that I’ve had the chance to coach at Duke.”  He almost surely will leave for the NBA after this season — and likely collect tens of millions of dollars in his professional career — and Saturday would’ve been his only appearance in the Carrier Dome. Even with Williamson a no-go, Syracuse players know their hands will still be full.“He’s a great player,” sophomore forward Oshae Brissett said. “We know they’re a great team with or without anybody.”last_img read more