Zion Williamson

NCAA Basketball: Final Four-Practice Day
FILE PHOTO: Apr 5, 2019; Minneapolis, MN, USA; Duke Blue Devils forward Zion Williamson accepts the Associated Press College Basketball Player of the Year award during a press conference for the 2019 men’s Final Four at US Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Shanna Lockwood-USA TODAY Sports

April 13, 2019

Zion Williamson’s freshman season at Duke didn’t end with a national championship, but he’s won just about everything else he’s been up for.

The likely No. 1 overall pick in June’s NBA draft on Friday added to his postseason hardware haul with the John R. Wooden Award, given to the nation’s top player.

The honor comes on the heels of Williams winning the AP and Naismith player of the year awards. He also earned first-team All-America honors from numerous outlets.

Williamson, 18, is the third freshman to win the Wooden Award, joining Kevin Durant (Texas, 2007) and Anthony Davis (Kentucky, 2012).

Williamson averaged 22.6 points and 8.9 rebounds per game with the Blue Devils, throwing down highlight-reel dunks seemingly every game, many of them ending up as viral sensations.

The Blue Devils went 32-6 this past season but lost to Michigan State in the regional final round of the NCAA Tournament.

During the awards show on ESPN on Friday night, Williamson drew laughter from the crowd when he replied, “Umm, who knows” when asked if he would join fellow Duke freshmen RJ Barrett and Cam Reddish in declaring for the draft.

Also during Friday’s show, the national position player of the year awards were announced:

–Bob Cousy Award (point guard): Ja Morant, Murray State

–Jerry West Award (best shooting guard): Barrett

–Julius Erving Award (small forward): Rui Hachimura, Gonzaga

–Karl Malone Award (power forward): Williamson

–Kareem Abdul-Jabbar Award (center): Ethan Happ, Wisconsin

On the women’s side, Oregon junior Sabrina Ionescu picked up the Wooden Award.

–Field Level Media

Source: OANN

NCAA Basketball: NCAA Tournament-Midwest Regional-Auburn vs Kentucky
FILE PHOTO: Mar 31, 2019; Kansas City, MO, United States; Kentucky Wildcats guard Tyler Herro (14) dribbles againt Auburn Tigers guard Malik Dunbar (4) during the second half in the championship game of the midwest regional of the 2019 NCAA Tournament at Sprint Center. Mandatory Credit: Jay Biggerstaff-USA TODAY Sports

April 12, 2019

Kentucky freshman guard Tyler Herro on Friday announced his intention to declare for the NBA draft but left his options open for a return to the school.

Herro said he will work with an agent, within new eligibility rules, in order to get feedback from teams on where he might land in the draft. If his draft stock is not as high as he had hoped, he said he will return to the Kentucky program.

“If the evaluations tell me I need to elevate my game further, I would be thrilled to return to Kentucky and help this team compete for a championship,” Herro said on Twitter. “Whatever happens over the next couple of months, I want to thank (Kentucky fans) for (their) support this season and throughout this process.”

Herro averaged 14.0 points in the 2018-19 season, second on the Wildcats. He led the team with 60 made 3-pointers, while shooting 93.5 percent from the free throw line, a Kentucky single-season record. He led the Wildcats with 32.6 minutes per game.

— Duke freshman Cam Reddish became the team’s second young star to declare for the draft, joining RJ Barrett. Reddish averaged 13.5 points, 3.7 rebounds and 1.9 assists in 36 games for Duke (32-6).

“This season was epic, and I am so thankful to have had Duke as a part of the foundation that prepared me to play at the next level. Never forget – I am a Blue Devil for life. Proud to announce that I will be entering the 2019 NBA Draft,” the 6-foot-8 forward posted on Instagram.

Meanwhile, Blue Devils superstar Zion Williamson, the likely top overall pick, has yet to make an official decision.

— Big East Conference Player of the Year Markus Howard announced he is returning to Marquette for his senior season.

Howard indicated there is more to accomplish in his announcement made on Twitter. “Unfinished Business,” he wrote. “Looking forward to next season with this team.”

Howard averaged 25.0 points, 3.9 rebounds and 3.9 assists for Marquette last season. Among his many highlights was scoring a Big East record 53 points in an overtime victory over Creighton on Jan. 9.

— Kansas guard Devon Dotson said he has filed the paperwork to enter the draft but could return to the Jayhawks. He made his announcement on Twitter.

“After careful consideration with my family and coaches, I have decided to test the waters and enter into the 2019 NBA draft process. I feel it’s a great opportunity to obtain feedback from NBA personnel to make fully informed decisions regarding my basketball future. Based on new rules, I will hire an agent and move forward while retaining my complete college eligibility.”

In his one season at Kansas, Dotson averaged 12.3 points, 3.7 rebounds and 3.5 assists per game.

— USC guard Kevin Porter Jr. hired an agent and said he will declare for the upcoming draft after he averaged 9.5 points and 4.0 rebounds per game for the Trojans.

The 6-foot-6 Porter missed two months this season with a thigh injury. Porter, a product of Rainier Beach High School in South Seattle, Wash., will not turn 19 until May 4.

–Field Level Media

Source: OANN

FILE PHOTO: NCAA Basketball: NCAA Tournament-First Round-Duke vs North Dakota State
FILE PHOTO: Mar 22, 2019; Columbia, SC, USA; Duke Blue Devils forward Cam Reddish (2) walks off the court while North Dakota State Bison guard Cameron Hunter (22) looks on during the first half in the first round of the 2019 NCAA Tournament at Colonial Life Arena. Mandatory Credit: Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

April 12, 2019

Duke freshman Cam Reddish became the team’s second young star to declare for the 2019 NBA Draft on Thursday.

“This season was epic, and I am so thankful to have had Duke as a part of the foundation that prepared me to play at the next level. Never forget – I am a Blue Devil for life. Proud to announce that I will be entering the 2019 NBA Draft,” the 6-foot-8 forward posted on Instagram.

Teammate RJ Barrett declared his intentions on Wednesday and is projected as a top-three pick in the June 20 draft.

Meanwhile, Blue Devils superstar Zion Williamson, the likely top overall pick, has yet to make an official decision.

Reddish averaged 13.5 points, 3.7 rebounds and 1.9 assists in 36 games for Duke (32-6) this season. The Blue Devils were eliminated after reaching the Elite Eight of the NCAA Tournament.

–Field Level Media

Source: OANN

NCAA Basketball: Wake Forest at Duke
FILE PHOTO: Mar 5, 2019; Durham, NC, USA; Duke Blue Devils forward R.J. Barrett (5) lays the ball up during the second half against the Wake Forest Demon Deacons at Cameron Indoor Stadium. The Blue Devils won 71-70. Mandatory Credit: Rob Kinnan-USA TODAY Sports

April 10, 2019

As expected, Duke freshman star R.J. Barrett officially declared for the 2019 NBA Draft on Wednesday.

“I want to thank God, my family, my coaches and everyone that has helped me reach this decision,” the 6-foot-7 forward posted on Twitter.

Barrett is projected as a top-three pick in the June 20 draft, along with Blue Devils teammate and fellow first-team All-American Zion Williamson.

Barrett averaged 22.6 points, 7.6 rebounds and 4.3 assists and started all 38 games for Duke (32-6), which reached the Elite Eight of the NCAA Tournament.

–Kentucky freshman Keldon Johnson is entering the draft and hiring an agent, but he is leaving the door open to decide to return to school by the May 29 deadline.

“My hope is to be a lottery pick,” he said in a statement. “If I am, I plan on pursuing my dreams and staying in the draft, but I want to go through the process first and get the correct information.”

Johnson, a 6-6 guard, was third on the Wildcats in scoring (13.5 points per game) and rebounding (5.9 per game), earning SEC Freshman of the Year of the honors.

–Arizona State guard Luguentz Dort, the Pac-12 Freshman of the Year, told ESPN he is “all-in” for the NBA draft.

Dort, a burly 6-4 guard, averaged 16.1 points, 4.3 rebounds and 2.3 assists for the Sun Devils. He earned second-team All-Pac-12 honors and was on the league’s all-defensive team.

He is ranked No. 27 among ESPN’s list of top draft prospects.

–Ohio State sophomore forward Kaleb Wesson will go through the draft process, coach Chris Holtmann said.

“That process began about a week ago and we’ll see where it leads,” Holtmann said on Cleveland.com. “We’ve begun to gather some information from advisory committee for guys going through this process and that’s been helpful.”

Wesson averaged team highs with 14.6 points and 6.9 rebounds on the 2018-19 season.

–Field Level Media

Source: OANN

FILE PHOTO: NCAA Basketball: NCAA Tournament-Columbus Practice
FILE PHOTO: Mar 21, 2019; Columbus, OH, USA; Washington Huskies guard Matisse Thybulle (4) speaks with the media during practice before the first round of the 2019 NCAA Tournament at Nationwide Arena. Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports/File Photo

April 7, 2019

Washington senior guard Matisse Thybulle was named winner of the Naismith Defensive Player of the Year Award, the Atlanta Tipoff Club announced Sunday during a press conference in Minneapolis.

Thybulle posted a Pac-12 record 126 steals (California’s Jason Kidd set the previous mark in 1992-93) and blocked 83 shots this season. He also set the Pac-12 career mark of 331 steals, surpassing the record held by Oregon State’s Gary Payton (1986-90).

Thybulle was chosen over Gonzaga junior forward Brandon Clarke, Virginia sophomore guard De’Andre Hunter and Duke freshman forward Zion Williamson.

“To win the Naismith Defensive Player of the Year award means the world to me,” Thybulle said in a statement. “I’ve put in the hard work day in and day out, and I have to credit my teammates because they have always had my back both on and off the court. I was only able to accomplish this because of them.

“Defense is exciting, and I believe we showed people that this year. I’m just happy to represent this program on this stage because there are big things coming for the Huskies.”

Washington went 27-9 this season and made the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2011.

“What an incredible honor for Matisse and so well deserved. I’m so glad the Naismith Defensive Player of the Year award exists now because it really recognizes the effort that goes into the sport,” Washington coach Mike Hopkins said in a statement. “Defense is 50 percent of the game and what Matisse has done over his career is unlike anything I’ve ever seen in my 24 years of coaching.”

Thybulle averaged 9.1 points in addition to his defensive exploits. His 186 career blocks are tied with Christian Welp (1983-87) for the school mark.

Jevon Carter of West Virginia won the inaugural national defensive award last season.

–Field Level Media

Source: OANN

FILE PHOTO: NCAA Basketball: NCAA Tournament-East Regional Practice
FILE PHOTO: Mar 28, 2019; Washington, DC, USA; Duke Blue Devils forward Zion Williamson (1) shoots the ball during practice for the east regional of the 2019 NCAA Tournament at Capital One Arena. Amber Searls-USA TODAY Sports/File Photo

April 7, 2019

Duke forward Zion Williamson continued his collection of accolades on Sunday when he won the 2019 Citizen Naismith Trophy as the top college basketball in the country, the Atlanta Tipoff Club announced during a press conference in Minneapolis.

Williamson is the third freshman to win the honor, joining Kevin Durant of Texas in 2007 and Anthony Davis of Kentucky in 2012.

The other three finalists were Gonzaga junior forward Rui Hachimura, Tennessee junior forward Grant Williams and Murray State sophomore point guard Ja Morant.

Williamson won the Oscar Robertson Trophy and Associated Press Player of the Year honors on Friday. He also was the Atlantic Coast Conference Player of the Year. Williamson averaged 22.6 points, 8.9 rebounds, 2.1 assists and 1.8 blocks per game.

Williamson is the eighth Duke player to win the prestigious award.

“I want to thank the Citizen Naismith Trophy committee for selecting me as the Player of the Year. It is truly an honor to receive this and join such an elite list of former Blue Devils to have also won the award,” Williamson said in a statement. “There were so many great players who could have won this award this year. I can’t thank my teammates, coaches and family enough for helping me. This is a team award, and it’s an honor for me to accept this on behalf of my brothers.”

Williamson led Duke to a 32-6 record. The Blue Devils advanced to the Elite Eight, where they lost to Michigan State.

“Zion is absolutely deserving of this year’s Citizen Naismith Trophy. He handled himself with such class and humility this season, especially given what he accomplished, both individually and with his team,” Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski said in a statement. “Zion is a great representative of the game and is a pleasure to coach.

“Duke has a long history of Naismith winners, and Zion certainly belongs in that elite company.”

Duke’s most recent Naismith winner was JJ Redick in 2006. The other Blue Devils to earn the honor are Jason Williams (2002), Shane Battier (2001), Elton Brand (1999), Christian Laettner (1992), Danny Ferry (1989) and Johnny Dawkins (1986).

Williamson is expected to declare for the NBA draft and is projected to be the No. 1 overall pick.

–Field Level Media

Source: OANN

NCAA Basketball: Final Four-Semifinals-Michigan State vs Texas Tech
Apr 6, 2019; Minneapolis, MN, USA; Texas Tech Red Raiders head coach Chris Beard during the second half against the Michigan State Spartans in the semifinals of the 2019 men’s Final Four at US Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

April 7, 2019

MINNEAPOLIS — A first-time college basketball national champion will emerge when Texas Tech and Virginia square off Monday in the NCAA Tournament national championship game.

For two teams unfamiliar with this stage, the idea of cutting down the nets at U.S. Bank Stadium is becoming more than a dreamscape.

“Why not us?” Texas Tech coach Chris Beard said. “We’ve got good players. We’ve got a great university. We play in arguably the best league in the country. We won the Big 12 regular-season title. We’re a good team. We’ve got good players. Yeah, I think we deserve to be here, as do a lot of other teams. You’ve got to get fortunate, but we did. I’m looking forward to coaching these guys on Monday night.”

Texas Tech (31-6) is attempting to become the first team since UConn in 1999 to run that table in its first Final Four appearance. The Red Raiders smothered Michigan State 61-51 in Saturday’s national semifinal.

Virginia (34-3) was in the 1984 Final Four but Saturday’s dramatic last-second escape against Auburn provided the long-awaited return trip. It’s also the culmination of a redemption tour that began last March 16, when the No. 1-seeded Cavaliers were on the wrong side of history: a 74-54 loss to No. 16 seed UMBC.

“It’s a great story. It is,” Virginia coach Tony Bennett said.

“After the UMBC game, we sat in the holding area after that loss, and I said, we’re not going to put up Isaiah (Wilkins) or Devon (Hall), our two seniors. Ty (Jerome) and Kyle (Guy), we’re going to be up there, and that’s going to be one of the hardest things, facing that press conference, but it starts now. It’s going to mark something,” Bennett said. “I said, we’re going to get through this, but you guys need to be up there with me, and we need to go through this, and we need to go through next year together. We need each other. I knew it was going to be such an important time in our lives no matter how it played out. … And now to sit with them here brings great joy to my heart, it really does.”

Guy played hero for Virginia on Saturday, making a 3-pointer in the corner, and after Auburn’s Jared Harper missed one of two free throws, Jerome got the ball to Guy in the opposite corner for a game-winning try. A foul was called on Samir Doughty in the act of shooting, and Guy hit all three at the foul line to seal the game with 0.6 seconds on the clock.

“I’ve been pinching myself the whole time I’ve been in Minneapolis because it doesn’t really feel real,” Guy said Saturday. “But I’m just so happy right now, so proud of — (Jerome) played freakin’ phenomenal. 21, 9, and 6 (points, rebounds and assists) — he carried us through this game.”

Texas Tech advanced to the Elite Eight in 2018 and lost to eventual national champion Villanova. With four new starters, including graduate transfer Matt Mooney at point guard and 6-10 Tariq Owens, the Red Raiders are on the verge of claiming their own trophy.

That’s in great part a credit to Mooney, who tied a season high with 22 points and delivered big shots while Big 12 Player of the Year Jarrett Culver dealt with foul trouble. Mooney, from the far northwest Chicago suburb of Wauconda, is on his third college — he spent his freshman year at Air Force and then attended South Dakota.

“I can’t explain it, man. It’s been a heck of a journey,” Mooney said. “A lot of people have helped me get to this point, have helped me along the way. You know, this is — I’m living the dream right now. I’m so grateful I got another opportunity.”

If there’s a common denominator between the title contenders, defense is the calling card. Virginia and Texas Tech rank in the top three in defensive efficiency.

Duke beat Texas Tech 69-58 on Dec. 20. The Blue Devils also handed Virginia two of its three losses — 72-70 on Jan. 19 at Duke, and 81-71 in the rematch Feb. 9.

Blue Devils freshman Zion Williamson faced both teams this season and while he refused to pick a team to win the Final Four, he offered a first-hand breakdown of each team.

“The thing about Virginia was how they could control the pace of the game. I don’t think I’ve ever seen them frustrated. So they control the game very well,” Williamson said.

And what about the Red Raiders?

“Texas Tech, their defense, I mean, they took like nine, 10 charges against us … their defense was probably the best I played against,” Williamson said.

–By Jeff Reynolds, Field Level Media

Source: OANN

NCAA Basketball: Final Four-Practice Day
Apr 5, 2019; Minneapolis, MN, USA; Duke Blue Devils forward Zion Williamson accepts the Oscar Robertson Trophy during a press conference for the 2019 men’s Final Four at US Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Shanna Lockwood-USA TODAY Sports

April 6, 2019

MINNEAPOLIS — NBA Hall of Famer Oscar Robertson was eyeball to shoulder alongside larger-than-life freshman Zion Williamson on Friday night, posing for photographers as he handed off the national player of the year award that bears his name and likeness, when he offered a warning for the basketball world.

“You may not believe it now, but you can get a whole lot better,” Robertson said of Williamson.

Williamson averaged 22.9 points and 8.8 rebounds, shooting 68.8 percent with a package of ferocious finishes at the rim and a soft touch from the perimeter.

“When I watched Zion, I watched his footwork and his intelligence when he went into the basket because everyone was after him. They were going to double-team him and triple-team him and do all these things to try to keep him from around the basket,” said Robertson. “He’s so gifted and he’s just so quick and so high, it’s difficult for any one person to guard him.

“And as I said before, he’s going to get better when he gets to the next level.”

Williamson was not a unanimous pick for either player of the year award he took home Friday night, but he is universally expected to be the first player drafted in June.

Williamson, who is 6-7, 280 pounds, said he still wants to talk to his family and teammate RJ Barrett — another Duke freshman projected as a lottery pick in 2019 — before making anything official.

But every indication from Williamson, Robertson and Williamson’s family in attendance suggested that his college career is over.

“Whatever NBA team I land on, that’s the team I want to — that’s where I want to be. Like whoever drafts me, that’s where I want to be,” said Williamson, who reacted to questions implying he wouldn’t want to play for the lottery-odds-leading Knicks by shaking his head and putting his massive hand over his face.

“If they draft me, I would love to play for them.”

–By Jeff Reynolds, Field Level Media

Source: OANN

NCAA Basketball: NCAA Tournament-East Regional-Michigan State vs Duke
Mar 31, 2019; Washington, DC, USA; Duke Blue Devils forward Zion Williamson (1) grabs a rebound against Michigan State Spartans forward Nick Ward (44) and forward Kenny Goins (25) during the first half in the championship game of the east regional of the 2019 NCAA Tournament at Capital One Arena. Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

April 5, 2019

MINNEAPOLIS – Duke freshman Zion Williamson won the Oscar Robertson Trophy, presented to the 2018-19 U.S. Basketball Writers Association player of the year.

Williamson is the eighth Blue Devil to win the trophy and the third freshman (Kentucky’s Anthony Davis, Texas’ Kevin Durant) to claim the honor.

Robertson presented Williamson the bronze trophy, which portrays Robertson’s likeness, Friday at U.S. Bank Stadium in a press conference with Joe Mitch of the USBWA. Williamson was also presented with the AP national player of the year in another ceremony after receiving 59 of a possible 64 first-place votes.

“There are so many other great players across the country that could have won this award,” Williamson said. “This award, I see it as a team award. Without them I wouldn’t be here. I would really like to thank my mom for pushing me after every practice, every game.”

Robertson said Williamson’s footwork caught his attention watching him play this season.

Williamson, who was also a unanimous selection to the 2019 college basketball All-America team on Tuesday, averaged 22.6 points, 8.9 rebounds, 2.1 assists and 1.8 blocks per game.

“Talking to Zion in the back, I congratulated him for having such a great year,” Robertson said. “But your best basketball is all in front of you. It’s just exciting for me to sit beside you. You are so humble about the award and this is great. … I hope you go to the right team. You’re going to be a tremendous star in the NBA.”

Williamson is projected as the No. 1 overall pick in the 2019 NBA Draft. He laughed off suggestions that he wouldn’t play for certain NBA teams after an April 1 report from ESPN hinted he wouldn’t play for the Knicks.

Williamson said he plans to enjoy college and will discuss his next step with his family.

Williamson is the seventh Duke player to win AP player of the year honors. He is the third freshman to claim the AP award, with Davis and Durant again being the other two.

–Field Level Media

Source: OANN

FILE PHOTO: NCAA Basketball: NCAA Tournament-East Regional-Virginia Tech vs Duke
FILE PHOTO: Mar 29, 2019; Washington, DC, USA; Duke Blue Devils forward Zion Williamson (1) reacts during the second half against the Virginia Tech Hokies in the semifinals of the east regional of the 2019 NCAA Tournament at Capital One Arena. Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

April 5, 2019

Duke freshman forward Zion Williamson was named the Associated Press Player of the Year on Friday.

He received 59 of the possible 64 votes in winning the award.

Williamson, who was also a unanimous selection to the 2019 college basketball All-America team on Tuesday, averaged 22.6 points, 8.9 rebounds, 2.1 assists and 1.8 blocks per game.

His 68 percent shooting from the field was second nationally.

Williamson is projected as the No. 1 overall pick in the 2019 NBA Draft, though he has yet to officially commit to going pro.

The Blue Devils lost to Michigan State in the Elite Eight, despite being the overall top seed.

–Field Level Media

Source: OANN


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