By Evan Bleier / March 15, 2019

Duke Look Like NCAA Championship Contenders in Zion Williamson’s Return

Williamson went a perfect 13-of-13 from the field to tie an ACC record in a win over Syracuse.

CHARLOTTE, NORTH CAROLINA - MARCH 14: Zion Williamson #1 of the Duke Blue Devils dunks the ball against the Syracuse Orange during their game in the quarterfinal round of the 2019 Men's ACC Basketball Tournament at Spectrum Center on March 14, 2019 in Charlotte, North Carolina. (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)
CHARLOTTE, NORTH CAROLINA - MARCH 14: Zion Williamson #1 of the Duke Blue Devils dunks the ball against the Syracuse Orange during their game in the quarterfinal round of the 2019 Men's ACC Basketball Tournament at Spectrum Center on March 14, 2019 in Charlotte, North Carolina. (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)

Before he returned last night for the Duke Blue Devils, Zion Williamson had a message for all the talking heads who said he should stop playing college ball and focus on the NBA: “Thanks, but no thanks.”

“I’m not really worried about that. I’m just trying to be Zion and play the game I love,” Williamson said prior to Duke’s 84-72 win over Syracuse in Thursday’s quarterfinals of the ACC tournament. “You’ll never be forgotten if you win a national championship.”

And, with him on the court, Duke certainly looked capable of doing just that.

In the win, Williamson was unstoppable and went a perfect 13-of-13 from the field to tie the ACC record for most makes without a miss. The freshman led all scorers with 29 points and also collected 14 rebounds to go along with five steals.

Dominant with a capital “D,” Williamson’s play was that much more impressive given he hasn’t taken the court in nearly three weeks following SneakerGate.

“Williamson’s performance after a 22-day layoff didn’t just remind everyone why Duke surged to No. 1 in February and has looked like the national championship favorite when fully healthy,” according to USA Today. “It accentuated the gulf between Williamson and every other prospect in college basketball.”

After the win, Williamson once again addressed the notion that he shouldn’t have returned to the Blue Devils with the NBA on the horizon.

Duke will find out their seeding and who they will face in the first round of the NCAA tournament on Selection Sunday on St. Patrick’s Day.

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