Zion out to avoid 'what ifs' in March Madness
Zion Williamson does not want to be left with any 'what ifs' from Duke's NCAA tournament campaign as he bids to lead the Blue Devils to a national championship.
Williamson, a lock to be the first overall pick in this year's NBA draft, put on a show as Duke overcame a sloppy start to defeat the North Dakota State Bison 85-62 in the first round on Friday.
The 18-year-old, playing at the Colonial Life Arena in his home state of South Carolina, racked up 25 points in 30 minutes in a stunning display to set up a clash with UCF in the next round.
Duke have not won the national title since 2015, but Williamson is determined to make sure his only season as a collegiate athlete does not end in disappointment.
Asked what coach Mike Krzyzewski said to them at half-time, when Duke's lead was just 31-27, Williamson told ESPN: "We were kind of playing nervous, he told us to just calm down, just relax, just play Duke basketball.
"Once he told us to be ourselves and play Duke basketball we really turned it up.
"It's one of those things where we don't want to look back and say, 'Man we should have won or we could have won it'. We don't want no 'what ifs'. We're just going to leave it all out there and hope for the best outcome."
Most Points by Duke Freshmen in Big Dance Debut— Duke Basketball (@DukeMBB) March 23, 2019
2019 | ZIN: 25 points (12-16 FG)
2018 | MB35: 22 points
2015 | Big Jah: 21 points
(And did you see this block) pic.twitter.com/JXh81KrlB5
On his individual performance in leading Duke to a 54-point second half, Williamson said: "That's just something within me, deep down, if I see my team in a sticky situation. I want to be the one to pull us out. I just happened to be in the right spots.
"I remember watching March Madness, live-streaming it in high school, in middle school - just watching the intense games and telling myself I was gonna be a part of that.
"So, I think [Thursday] night, when I was sitting in my hotel room, I was like, 'I'm actually here'. It's very exciting. That's my main goal, to win the national championship. Individual awards, if you know me, I don't really care about them.
"The national championship, that's the one where I'll look back 20 years from now and go, 'Yeah, we won it with that group, and that group was really special'."