Analyst: Zion Won't "Leave His Teammates Hanging"

Many are calling for Zion Williamson to sit out the rest of the season, but Travis Hancock says that won't be happening

After Hours With Amy Lawrence
February 21, 2019 - 8:48 am

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No. 8 North Carolina stunned No. 1 Duke, 88-72, at Cameron Indoor Stadium on Wednesday, but the story of the game came less than a minute after tip-off. Zion Williamson, arguably the best player in the country, dribbled and planted.

Then his shoe exploded. Then he fell to the court and grabbed his knee.

It was a jarring sight to see for the presumptive No. 1 pick in the NBA Draft.

“It’s unfortunate for the game of basketball,” WFNZ Charlotte Mack Attack Morning Show co-host Travis Hancock said on After Hours with Amy Lawrence. “Remove your fandom aside. That was such a special showcase for the sport because of Zion last night, one of the most hyped-up players we’ve ever seen in our lifetime, and for him to play 30 seconds, I thought it was bad for the sport. It’s unfortunate. We saw something that we’ve literally never seen happen before to a player like that.”

Mike Krzyzewski said after the game that Williamson suffered a mild knee sprain. The injury, however, could have been far worse – and prompted many to suggest that Williamson should sit out the rest of the season to protect his draft stock – and future millions.

Hancock doesn’t see that happening.

“I think he can be back relatively soon,” Hancock said. “I think he will be back – because that’s just Zion’s mentality. He’s not going to leave his friends and the brotherhood, so to speak. If he can go, he’s going to play. He said two days ago that even if he was allowed to go pro straight from high school, he still would have played college basketball. He’s a different cat in that regard, so I do think if he can play and he’s good to go, I don’t think Zion is going to leave his teammates hanging like that.”

As for the game itself, Duke looked lost without Williamson. R.J. Barrett and Cam Reddish combined for 60 of Duke’s 72 points, but the rest of the team shot just 4-of-27 (.148) from the floor.

“It was awful to watch,” Hancock said. “They were completely undone, and they played like a freshman team. Of course Zion is a freshman, but he plays so far above his first year that he’s almost like a veteran. Way too many three-pointers for a team that doesn’t shoot the three well.”

Duke (23-3) shot 8-of-39 (20.5 percent) from distance. North Carolina (21-5) shot just 2-of-20 (10.0 percent) from three, but seniors Luke Maye (30 points, 15 rebounds) and Cameron Johnson (26 points, seven rebounds) were in control throughout.

“For (Duke) to win last night without Zion, it had to be attack mode to the basket with Barrett and Reddish,” Hancock said. “They had to attack, attack, attack. To have 39 threes is way too much. They weren’t prepared to play without Zion. They played like a young team against a team full of veterans that have played in Cameron a number of times – like Luke Maye and Cameron Johnson – and guys that simply are not intimidated by the atmosphere whatsoever.”