DURHAM, N.C. — Zion Williamson is leaving Duke after one high-flying season to enter the NBA draft.

Widely projected as the top overall pick in the June draft, the AP national player of the year announced his decision Monday.

The 6-foot-7, 285-pound Williamson captivated college basketball with his freakish, once-in-a-generation athleticism, energy at both ends of the floor and omnipresent charisma.

The Atlantic Coast Conference player and rookie of the year averaged 22.6 points – tied for the league lead with teammate RJ Barrett – and 8.9 rebounds. Along the way he became the face of college basketball this season, routinely coming up with at least one highlight-reel play or show-stopping dunk per game.

His decision to turn pro came as no surprise. In fact, he spent the season greeting NBA chatter with a playful wink and a knowing nod.

He said it would be “dope” to play on a hypothetical New York Knicks team with Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant. Upon learning that LeBron James and Stephen Curry were talking about him during All-Star weekend, he responded that he’s “hoping to be there competing against them next year.”

During his lone college season, he helped the Blue Devils earn the No. 1 ranking in the final AP Top 25 and the top overall seed in the NCAA tournament. Duke was knocked out by Michigan State in the East Regional final.

Now that he’s headed to the NBA, one key subplot to follow is which sneaker company will land his endorsement.

In one of the signature moments of the season, Williamson blew out his left Nike shoe – the PG 2.5, the signature shoe of Oklahoma City star Paul George – and sprained his right knee in the opening minute of what became a lopsided home loss to rival North Carolina.

The impact was immediate. Nike’s stock price took a hit the next day and the shoe company sent a team of representatives to campus to investigate. When Williamson returned roughly three weeks later for the ACC tournament, he wore a pair of modified size-15 Nikes from the signature line of Irving, a Boston Celtics All-Star and former one-and-done player at Duke.

Williamson joins Cam Reddish and Barrett as classmates headed to the pros after one season. Point guard Tre Jones said he’ll return to school for his sophomore year.

GONZAGA: Forward Rui Hachimura declared for the NBA draft.

The 6-foot-8 native of Japan led Gonzaga in scoring this season with 19.7 points per game while shooting 59 percent from the field. He was also named the West Coast Conference player of the year.

VIRGINIA: Guard Ty Jerome will give up his final year of eligibility to make himself available for the NBA draft.

Jerome said he made the decision after talking with his family and the Virginia coaches.


ST. JOSEPH’S 15, UM-FARMINGTON 3: Logan Champlin and Kara Kelly each scored three goals to lead the Monks (9-6) over the Beavers (5-8) at Farmington.

Lydia Dexter, Kayla Kelly and Emily Ryan each added two scores, and Madelyn Nelson made five saves for St. Joseph’s.

Kaya Backman, Samantha Cross and Isabella Monbouquette scored for Farmington.