Zion Williamson is back, with a vengeance.
The projected number one NBA draft pick missed the Duke Blue Devils’ last six games after his left shoe burst open, leaving him with a sprained left knee.
If he had any rust coming back, it didn’t show when he took to the court against Syracuse on Friday.
Williamson dominated – there was do other way to describe his return.
He didn’t miss a shot in his return, netting 29 points in 13/13 shooting (though he was a poor 2/9 from the free throw line), and grabbed 14 rebounds, two assists, five steals and two blocks in an utterly complete performance.
Duke, who went 3-3 in Williamson’s absence, dominated Syracuse 84-72.
Williamson didn’t have it all his own way though – a tripping controversy erupted when Syracuse guard Frank Howard appeared to stick his foot out at the rising star in the second quarter.
PROTECT ZION AT ALL COSTS 😤
— Yahoo Sports NBA (@YahooSportsNBA) March 15, 2019
Howard denied intentionally getting in Williamson’s path after the game.
Even that incident couldn’t stop the Duke phenom, who said he had always been eyeing off a return to the court, despite calls for him to sit out until the draft.
“It felt great,” Williamson told ESPN after the game. “I love this game. I love my teammates. Some people thought I wasn’t going to return. They weren’t smart. I love playing with Duke. I love my teammates.
“They’re entitled to their own opinions,” Williamson said of those who suggested he sit out in preparation for the NBA draft. “I appreciate the input. I can’t leave my boys hanging.”
He added that his knee feels “incredible.”