Zion Williamson reveals he wanted to return to Duke, was convinced to turn pro

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New Orleans Pelicans forward Zion Williamson goes to the basket before the start of an NBA basketball game against the Chicago Bulls in New Orleans, Wednesday, Jan. 8, 2020. Williamson is not scheduled to play. (AP Photo/Matthew Hinton)


Zion Williamson has yet to step on an NBA floor since the New Orleans Pelicans selected him No. 1 overall in last year’s draft, but if it was up to him he would still be dunking at Cameron Indoor Stadium.

Williamson said in an interview on The Ringer’s “The JJ Redick Podcast” on Wednesday that he wanted to return to Duke for his sophomore season but was convinced to go pro.

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New Orleans Pelicans forward Zion Williamson goes to the basket before the start of an NBA basketball game against the Chicago Bulls in New Orleans, Wednesday, Jan. 8, 2020. Williamson is not scheduled to play. (AP Photo/Matthew Hinton)

“Me, I wanted to go back. Nobody ever believes me and they think I’m just saying that, but no, I genuinely wanted to go back,” Williamson said.

“I felt like the NBA wasn’t going anywhere. The money thing, that’s money, I don’t play this for money, I play for the love of the game. I just loved my experience at Duke that much where I wanted to stay,” he added.

He said it was legendary Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski and his parents who ultimately convinced him to go to the NBA.

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“But it was one of those situations where Coach K is not going to let me come back,” he said. “He wants me to do what’s best for my family. My teammates were saying, ‘It would be dope if you came back’ but at the same time, they were telling me that I would be leaving too much…”

“At the end of the day, it was kind of my mom,” he added. “She said she was going to support me in whatever I do. So I was like ‘I’m going back!’ I think her and my stepdad talked and said, ‘You worked too hard to get to this moment. You’d feel bad if you left it.'”

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Williamson has been recovering from a torn meniscus. He is very close to making his NBA debut but a timetable for his first game has not been set.



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