LOS ANGELES, Calif. – Former Duke men’s basketball standout Zion Williamson added another trophy to his collection Wednesday evening, winning the ESPY as the 2019 College Athlete of the Year.
Williamson becomes the first Duke men’s basketball player to win an ESPY, and just the fourth nominated. In 2002, both Shane Battier and Jason Williams were nominated for the College Athlete of the Year, while J.J. Redick was nominated in 2006.
“I want to thank Duke University and Coach K for letting me perform on the highest platform,” said Williamson during his acceptance speech. “And a shout out to The Brotherhood -- I wish they could have been here with me. I love Duke, and wish I could have stayed a second year.”
The No. 1 overall pick by the New Orleans Pelicans in last month’s 2019 NBA Draft, Williamson was the consensus National Player of the Year and a consensus first-team All-America selection. He became the first freshman in ACC history to be named both ACC Player of the Year and ACC Tournament MVP in the same season.
The other 2019 nominees for the College Athlete of the Year were Kyler Murray (Oklahoma football), Sabrina Ionescu (Oregon women’s basketball) and Rachel Garcia (UCLA softball).
“I love Duke. Wish I could’ve stayed a second year, but I had other things to do.”
During last evenings NBA Draft, we saw real emotion from the Duke players as they were chosen. Check out Zion Williamson and his former teammate RJ Barrett display immense happiness, one with his father and one with his mother in these two videos,
Three future Duke Blue Devils are ranked numbers 1-2, and 2 in the final ESPN Rankings of high school basketball players. RJ Barrett finished as the top rated player in the country, followed by Zion Williamson and Cam Reddish.
It s the first time that a school has ever had the top three rated players coming in at the same time. A fourth Blue Devil to be, Tre Jones, finished the season ranked 17th. Next years class is considered the best in the land by all the recruiting services.
Duke loses all five of their starters from last seasons Elite 8 team. The Blue Devils may be adding other players to their roster which returns Marques Bolden, Javin DeLaurier, Alex O'Connell, Jack White, Antonio Vrankovic , Justin Robinson and Justin Goldwire.
For more on Duke Basketball recruiting join Blue Devil Nation premium during our two for 1 membership special.
Duke was in control of the basketball game against Wake Forest from the opening tip as they coasted to a 91-73 victory. Duke now sits alone atop the ACC at 4-0 but they will now prepare for a 3-1, hot Florida State team which invades Cameron in less than 48 hours.
The Andre Dawkins Show
The first half of the game belonged to Andre Dawkins who knocked down 21 points on 7 of 9 three pointers. Dawkins earned the praise of Krzyzewski in his post game speech which just concluded. Dawkins failed to score in the second half. Check out our interview with Andre per BDN Video. Dawkins knocked down five straight three point shots and Dawkins has now scored 20 plus points in two consecutive games and this was his 9th double figure scoring game for the season.
Ryan Kelly scored a double-double
Kelly went 8 of 11 from the field on his way to a team high 20 points to go with 10 rebounds. His consistent play was a huge factor for Duke as they maintained a working lead the entire game. Kelly has scored 20 points in two of his teams ACC wins and he scored in double figures for the 11th time this season.
Austin Rivers comes off the bench for the first time
Rivers started the game on the bench as Krzyzewski said he was checking new combinations, but maybe he should remain the sixth man if he puts up numbers like 20 points. Despite starting on the bench with 32 minutes of playing time, he basically still was a starter. His 3 of 4 from the three point stripe matched a career high. Austin has now scored in double figures 14 times this season and he leads the Blue Devils in scoring.
Just too much talent for Duke
The Blue Devils held Wake to zero three pointers in the first half and just 3 all game long. They also held the Wake bench scoreless at the half. Duke ended the game with a 43 to 8 points advantage, thanks to the aforementioned Kelly and Rivers. Duke held an 18-9 second chance point advantage as well and while they were outscored in the paint, that was due to their outside shots falling where they knocked down 11 three pointers. The Blue Devils also dished out 17 assists tonight.
This and that
Duke extended it's ACC home court streak to 45 games and 64 straight against unranked teams. This was the first game since March of 2010 that Duke had three 20 point scorers in one game. Duke is 51-9 when ranked #4 in the country. Four Blue Devils scored in double figures for the 11th time this season.
Post game videos
Below are Austin Rivers, Andre Dawkins and Ryan Kelly post game comments per BDN Video.
When a basketball player has gone cold from the field and he struggles with his shot, he simply needs to see the ball fall in the basket, to get things going again. It is generally known that shot will be a simple one, a lay in or dunk and or a sure thing. I apply that same logic to Duke as a team and just seeing a win in the column, is just what the doctor ordered, with especially that win coming in the ACC opener on the road at Georgia Tech. Like a shooter, I expect Duke will get back on track with a win in the column after two road games which resulted in an upset loss at Temple and squandering a 20 point lead to hang on for a win in Atlanta. In this week's Monday Musings, BDN takes a look at the team and Amile Jefferson, the latest basketball prospect to be offered.
Grinding out a win
Duke got what it needed in the win over the Yellow Jackets, that being a victory. One must remember this is not an old team and they started two freshman guards and that this team is still finding out its true identity on the court. Add to that the psychological effects of a road loss at Temple, coming off another one against Ohio State and simply winning on the road cures a lot of ills and allows for a foundation for adjustment. While a lot of Duke fans lit up the message boards with concern and arm chair analogies, I, for one, was happy with the win and I have been around the block once or twice and realized that the game was already in the rear view mirror. Duke needed to see a road win in the ledger and they'll be better from it.
Duke will not always play a perfect game where all goes as expected but fans seem to forget losing Kyle Singler, Nolan Smith and Kyrie Irving is devastating and that this years team is in the process of finding their collective roles. Unlike teams past, this years version has no stand out super star at this point. This is a team where every player are learning their roles on the run and considering the tough schedule Duke has played to date, they're right where they need to be. If you haven't done so already, you need to adjust your expectations with this team and not hold them to a spoiled standard if you will. By season end, this may well be a team that can make a run in March, but it is the lessons learned along the way that make them possible. And this is where I remind you that Krzyzewski has said all season long, that different players would have to step up each night until leaders are established.
The Hoo's await Duke in Cameron
The Cameron Crazies need to bring their "A," game for the Blue Devils take on a Virginia team that could lay claim to the perception of being considered second best team in the ACC to the loaded Tar Heels with an upset win. Virginia comes into the Thursday evening game on a roll having lost a single game on the season. Make no mistake that this is a huge game right off the bat in ACC play and this game provides a good measuring stick for both clubs. And we're back to those 9:00 starts in this one as the season takes off where there is little time to catch your breath until sometime in March or April. Anyhow, I expect Duke to come out and be ready for the challenge this week.
A new offer is on the table -- Amile Jefferson
The Duke Blue Devils extended an offer to Amile Jefferson, a 6-8, 198 pound forward from Friends Central High School in Philadelphia, PA. That offer came after a conversation between Coach Mike Krzyzewski and Jefferson, who joins Shabazz Muhammad and Tony Parker as players still holding offers in the class of 2012. The first thing I noticed when watching Jefferson was his length and how smooth he was on the court. He also makes good decisions and is a great student in the class room. While he is indeed slender, his frame will allow growth and he moves in a smooth way which allows him to slither around the basket with advanced body control. Our BDN Recruiting analyst are breaking down his game for members of BDN Premium in that we, as a team, have seen him play around 25 or so times. Our first interview with him came in early 2010 and there are five total in our archives and they are very informative. Anyhow, all you want to know is being discussed in the members forum, so join today for full site access.
Jason Jordan on Julius Randle and ...
I had the chance to meet and chat with Jason Jordan of ESPN during the Holiday Invitational recently. We originally had this video interview up for our premium members, but it is now open to the public and gives one an idea at our content. We discussed Duke Basketball recruiting and we'll do so again in the near future. Here is the link to our chat - Mark Watson and ESPN's Jason Jordan. And here is an article which is hot off the press where Jordan has key Duke prospect Julius Randle talk of his visits to Duke and UNC.
This week BDN Monday Musings discusses the Duke Football and the huge game tomorrow evening for the Duke Men's Basketball team at Ohio State in Columbus. And of course, we have our cheerleader of the week as well and other tidbits.
Duke at Ohio State, ACC-Big Ten Challenge
I can't remember a season in recent memory where the Blue Devils have played a NCAA tournament like schedule early on. Tomorrow evening Duke heads to Columbus to face the #2 ranked team in the nation in the Ohio State Buckeyes. We are talking Jared Sullinger here, a dominant big man and first team All American who spurned the NBA to play for a loaded team. This may well be a 2 versus 3 match up once the polls come out later today for Duke could leap Syracuse with their big wins and of course #1 North Carolina takes a quick exit from the top spot. The Blue Devils will have to bring their "A" game to defeat the buckeyes and this will be a big time test for a young team. During yesterdays press conference, it was clear that the Duke players look forward to the challenge. The game tips at 9:30 tomorrow and I am sure the entire Blue Devil Nation will be tuned in.
Next year, it's the Bahama's for the Blue Devils
Next Thanksgiving the Duke Men's Basketball team will head to the Bahama's, Paradise Island to be exact for the Battle in Atlantis. Other teams slated for the affair are Stanford led by Johnny Dawkins, Memphis, Minnesota, Missouri, Louisville, Northern Iowa and Virginia Commonwealth. Here is the link for the field.
A November to remember
What a whirlwind of a month it has been for Duke Basketball. Coach Krzyzewski broke the all time NCAA wins record and he 's still going. The team itself is an outstanding 7-0 and they'll next face Ohio State in a monster prime time match up. The only thing missing is a commitment from key prospect Tony Parker. Well, let's save that for a December to remember. Seriously, Mr. Parker ... what more could you want than to play for the prime time Duke Blue Devils?
Goodbye Matt Daniels
Of all the seniors on this team, a couple stand out for me. One is Donovan Varner, the other is Matt Daniels. It's fun watching Daniels lay down so hits where the opponent gets up with a tatted chest and the senior had a career high 18 tackles against North Carolina. Duke will sorely miss his leadership and upbeat nature and BDN wishes this young man the best of luck at the next level. There will never be another Matt Daniels in that he was that unique.
The season is over for Duke Football
If you've been a long time Duke Football fan or even short term for that matter, you are used to disappointment. Despite being use to that unwanted feeling, it still stings when the team struggles. At the beginning of the season, I said anything less than 4-8 would be a disappointment and I stick by that as the team finished 3-9. Losing to Richmond in the opener with a good crowd in the stands set the table early on and this game was a must win in so many ways. The Blue Devils never recovered from that loss and the Spiders turned out to be a horrible football team. That game just flat out left a taste in fan's mouths that was hard to get rid of and it still does to this day for me. But Duke did come close in many games and had the ball bounced their way a few times, this team would be going bowling for the first time in over a decade. Being close to the situation, I can tell you that these kids are all class acts with great character so that is something to be proud of but this is a program where the players need to expect to win and until they do it'll be tough sailing. The Blue Devils lose some key seniors but return a whole lot of their team next season and add more redshirts. This past year was the first season with all of Coach Cut's players, so next year Duke will be expected to be better and the schedule will not make that easy where I count, again, 3 games Duke should win. The other 9, they'll be underdogs in. Look for a lot of off season talk about Anthony Boone getting more of a shot to compete with senior Sean Renfree and much more. Duke will be picked last in their division again, so here is to hoping they sneak up on the league and start to round the corner