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Williamson earns first National Player of the Year award

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Duke freshman Zion Williamson was named the Sporting News National Player of the Year earlier this week, becoming the 11th Blue Devil to be named a National Player of the Year and winning the program’s 56th total national honor.

The Spartanburg, South Carolina native is the first Blue Devil selected by Sporting News since J.J. Redick in 2006.

Last season, Marvin Bagley III was the Basketball Times National Player of the Year. Williamson was named both the ACC Player and Rookie of the Year, while also being both a consensus first-team All-ACC and ACC All-Defensive selection. Williamson is the nation’s only player averaging more than 20 points per game and shooting better than 65 percent from the field.

THE RETURN

Duke regained the services of Williamson on Thursday night against Syracuse in the quarterfinals of the ACC tournament in Charlotte.

Williamson is second in the ACC in scoring (21.6), third in rebounding (8.8) and leads the conference in field goal percentage (.683). He had not played since sustaining the injury on Feb. 20 against UNC.

Williamson returned with authority, getting 29 points and 14 rebounds in Duke's 84-72 win.

Duke swept by UNC 

Zion Williamson played exactly 36 seconds in the two regular-season games Duke played in the greatest rivalry in sports, which led to its first sweep by UNC since 2009.

Duke led 40-38 at halftime, but then the gas ran out in the second half as it was outscored 41-30 after halftime.

Losing Williamson was bad enough for Duke, but then starting center Marques Bolden left the game with a knee sprain after just 2:33 of game action.

The shorthanded Blue Devils allowed UNC freshman and Greenfield School product Coby White to go off for 21 points, as UNC exploited Javin DeLaurier in pick-and-roll situations.

Duke wilted in the game’s final minutes as it settled for 3-point shots.

NCAA NO. 1 SEED?

Duke is now battling UNC and Virginia for a No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament, although it is still technically possible for all three to get a top seed.

The consolation prize for second place among those three teams is likely the top seed in the South Region, which has the Sweet 16 and Elite Eight in Louisville, Kentucky.

Possible destinations for the Big Dance’s first two rounds are Columbia, South Carolina, Hartford, Connecticut, Salt Lake City, Utah, Des Moines, Iowa, Jacksonville, Florida, Tulsa, Oklahoma, Columbus, Ohio or San Jose, California.

SPRING PRACTICE CONTINUES

While the practices are on pause now due to the university being on spring break, the Duke football program will resume spring practice on Mar. 18 after a 14-day break. Eight practices will finish out Duke’s spring camp as the Blue Devils hope to develop cohesion and consistency heading in to the long offseason.

JONES A FIRST ROUNDER?

Quarterback Daniel Jones has been projected as a first-round pick in the NFL Draft since he declared his eligibility earlier this spring and competed in the Senior Bowl, NFL Scounting Combine and now an upcoming Pro Day on Mar. 26. Duke has never had a quarterback drafted in the first round of the NFL Draft, and hasn’t had a draft pick since Laken Tomlinson in 2015.

Adam Rowe covers Duke basketball, football and recruiting for 247Sports.com. Check out more of his work at duke.247sports.com.

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