Wil­liamson doesn’t let a bad sneaker keep him down

The Fresno Bee (Sunday) - - On Tv - BY GE­ORGE DICKIE

It was the ex­hale heard ‘round the bas­ket­ball world.

When Zion Wil­liamson’s sneaker gave out dur­ing a mid-Fe­bru­ary game and caused Duke’s star power for­ward to crum­ple to the floor with an in­jured left knee, fears im­me­di­ately ran ram­pant as to whether the prob­a­ble top pick in this sum­mer’s NBA Draft had a torn ACL and thus wouldn’t be able to play again this sea­son or even be the same player.

But those wor­ries were put to rest when the di­ag­no­sis came back that he had a mild knee sprain and his sta­tus was day-to-day.

So New York Knicks, Phoenix Suns, Chicago Bulls and Cleve­land Cava­liers, you can breathe easy now. Your prospec­tive fran­chise sav­ior is still in­tact.

When healthy, the 18-year-old fresh­man from South Carolina is a freak­ish blend of speed, strength and leap­ing abil­ity, who at 6 feet 7 inches and 285 pounds has been de­scribed as a once-in-agen­er­a­tion tal­ent that has drawn com­par­isons to Charles Barkley, Larry John­son and even LeBron James. And Washington Wizards’ John Wall has likened Wil­liamson’s dunk­ing abil­ity to that of leg­endary NBA ac­ro­bat Vince Carter.

His stats as of late Fe­bru­ary war­rant all the in­ter­est: 21.6 points and 8.8 re­bounds per game with an eye-pop­ping 68.3 field goal per­cent­age, while play­ing pri­mar­ily power for­ward but also oc­ca­sion­ally small for­ward and even cen­ter.

Wil­liamson and the top-ranked Duke Blue Devils can be seen in ac­tion this week in the 2019 NCAA Men’s Bas­ket­ball Tour­na­ment – aka “March Mad­ness” – which gets un­der­way Tues­day, March 19, and airs on truTV, CBS, TBS and TNT.

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