Zion and more

BY DON BEANE, News + Record Staff
Posted 3/22/19

The return of Zion Williamson was one of the highlights of the weekend for me as a college basketball fan.

Not because Duke won the ACC title in Charlotte, but because he came back to …

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Zion and more

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The return of Zion Williamson was one of the highlights of the weekend for me as a college basketball fan.

Not because Duke won the ACC title in Charlotte, but because he came back to play.

That shows how big a competitor the young man is, and what kind of teammate he is.

The consensus opinion around the country was that Williamson would forgo the rest of the season after being injured early in the opening UNC game in February.

Well, he proved the naysayers wrong.

That said, the naysayers have a valid point: Why risk further injury when you are about to be guaranteed millions of dollars in the upcoming NBA Draft?

For old-schoolers like me, it’s because he, as it should be, wants to compete, and that is what it’s all about. In a day and age of increasing prima donnas in sports, Williamson proved that there are still plenty of hard-nosed competitors out there. I mean, can you imagine Michael Jordan ever skipping a big game?

Now granted, its time the NBA and NCAA fix this broken system. I’m sorry, if a kid like Williamson can go out of high school and make millions and set their families up for generations to come, then they certainly should be allowed to. This is still a capitalistic society even though some in this country seem to be dead-set on ending that.

And if players elect to go to college, then they should have to stay two or three years before entering the NBA Draft. Baseball does it, and now its time for the NBA to do it. The players, the college game, the fans, and the coaches will all benefit from a revised system.

But for now, we can watch and enjoy a special player in Williamson again during the NCAA Tournament. It’s hard not to like the young man. He has an infectious, kid-like personality like Shaquille O’Neal. And that special combination of personality and talent don’t come around that often.

Also this weekend was the NCHSAA State Championships in basketball.

Of special area interest, Pamlico Country proved most of the state wrong in winning the 1A State Championship on the girls side with a 62-55 victory over East Surry.

Pamlico had lost in the title contest the previous two seasons, and the Northwest Conference alone had won 14 straight with most of those coming from the recruiting private school juggernaut that is Bishop McGuinness, who has been allowed to play with the public schools.

How good was Pamlico? Just ask Chatham Central. After what they did to the Bears I think a lot of us local fans got the feeling that the Hurricanes may stop this West dominance. And we were right. Pamilico was simply legit, especially Jainaya Jones, who torched East Surry for 39 points.

Now it’s time to focus on the NCAA Tournament, which should be wide open this season with no dominant teams.

I will go ahead and throw my predictions out there in what should be an exciting three weeks of action.

My Final Four is UNC, Duke, Tennessee, and Michigan.

UNC is playing about as well as anyone right now and White, Little and Maye are just great players. The Tar Heels are going to be a tough out for anyone.

The same can be said for Duke if they can get healthy. Williamson gives them an obvious boost and that is coming at the right time. Coach K is no dummy. He allowed Williamson to get some extra recovery time before bringing him back in the ACC Tournament, and it worked like a charm.

Tennessee, well, I’m a Vols fan. They are far from the most talented team, but they come to work and play hard consistently, and Rick Barnes does a great job fundamentally. If Tennessee can hit from the outside, they will be hard to handle because they are very experienced with Grant Williams, Admiral Schofield and Jordan Bone leading the way out of what was a tough Southeastern Conference this season.

Michigan, well I just love the coaching of John Beilein. Fundamentally he’s about as good as it gets and his club has been through the battles the past three years.

Next four, Villanova just because of what Jay Wright has built, Kentucky because they are long and loaded with talent, albeit young, and then UVA and Gonzaga, two programs that everyone is waiting to see finally break through.

So fill out your brackets and get ready for some March Madness!


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