Coming out of high school, Zion Williamson was considered the most hyped prospect since LeBron James. That hype grew while he was dominating the college ranks with his spectacular athleticism and high flying dunks.
These comparisons would more times than not have someone itching to begin their professional career and make millions of dollars. But it wasn’t that way for Zion Williamson.
According to Zion himself, it took a lot of convincing and almost assertion that he would enter the NBA draft. During an appearance on his teammate, JJ Redick’s podcast, Williamson expressed that he had desires and intentions on returning to Duke for his sophomore season.
“I wanted to go back, nobody ever believes me. They think I’m just saying that. I genuinely wanted to go back. I felt like the NBA wasn’t going anywhere. The money thing, that’s money. I don’t play this for money. I play this because I genuinely love the game. I just loved my experience at Duke so much that I wanted to stay,” said Williamson.
That’s something that is very well believable, college is often the greatest time in a young adult’s life. I always likened the college experience to the perfect blend of freedom and childhood. You’re free enough to break loose from the reigns of your parents, while not quite having the full responsibility of an adult.
But ultimately, Coach K, and Zion’s mother would not let him return to Duke and pass on the chance to be the number one overall pick and secure a multi-million dollar contract.
“But it was one of those situations where Coach K is not going to let me come back,” he continued. “He wants me to do what’s best for my family. My teammates were saying, ‘It would be dope if you came back,’ but at the same time, they were telling me that I would be leaving too much. At the end of the day, it was kind of my mom. She said she was going to support me in whatever I do. So I was like ‘I’m going back!’ I think her and my stepdad talked and said, ‘You worked too hard to get to this moment. You’d feel bad if you left it. So I said, ‘I did work for this since I was 4 or 5 so let me go.'”
Zion decided to enter the draft and he was taken first overall by the New Orleans Pelicans. However, during the preseason, he suffered a knee injury and has not yet made his debut. According to head coach Alvin Gentry, whenever he does return, he will be on a minutes restriction.