Mark Schanowski's Big Board 9.0 had some movement, particularly around the bottom half of the top 10. We take the time to go over No. 1 prospect Zion Williamson's return to the floor, as he set an ACC Tournament and Duke record.
Zion Williamson returned to the court on Thursday night, playing in his first game since February 20. And after only a few minutes of action, it was clear that Williamson was absolutely 100 percent good to go.
In his return to the court, Williamson showcased all of the attributes that he did before he went down against North Carolina. His explosiveness, incredible rebounding prowess and soft touch around the rim were enough to make him unguardable against Syracuse tall, yet slight of build frontcourt.
Williamson was so dominant inside the paint, that his 14 rebounds matched the rebound total from all three Syracuse frontcourt starters combined.
Zion’s 7 offensive rebounds (as a team Syracuse had 9) were obviously important because they led to high percentage putback layups, but just as important was the fact that each offensive board crushed the spirits of the Orange. Williamson’s mere presence is draining for opponents.
On defense Williamson doesn’t appear to have lost any quickness. Against Syracuse he occasionally gambled for a steal, but he is so fast that even when he overpursues the ball on the perimeter, he is able to change directions quickly and get back into the play.
And when he does get a steal—as he did five times against Syracuse—we all know how demoralizing his “showtime” dunks can be for the opposition as they were on Thursday night.
The biggest thing that came out of Thursday night however, was the reminder of how efficient Williamson can be as an overall offensive weapon. He hit his lone 3PT shot on the night, a part of an absolutely insane performance in terms of efficiency.
Williamson finished the game a perfect 13/13 from the field, though Williamson would say he couldn’t call the night perfect since he stated “[I] couldn't really throw a tennis ball into the ocean with my free throws.” The 13/13 from the field tied an ACC Tournament record and set the new Duke record for most field goals made without a miss. According to ESPN, Williamson 29 PT, 14 REB, 5 STL performance was the first 25-10-5 game since Christian Laettner in 1992.
Any concerns over Williamson returning to form are certainly gone. In Duke’s win over Syracuse his 100 percent shooting boosted a Blue Devils offense that was 30.4 percent from 3PT range and 67.9 percent from the free throw line. With the No. 1 pick all but locked up for Zion, it will be intriguing to see how he leads Duke throughout the NCAA Tournament, as he has made it clear that he plays for the name on the front of his chest.