If you have not heard yet, Duke is once again under investigation for illegal recruiting activities. This time, the target is former #1 overall pick, Zion Williamson. Allegedly, Duke gave Zion improper benefits in order to lure him to the Blue Devils. If this surprises you one bit, then I do not know what to say. Williamson was one of the most coveted recruits EVER and was probably the most hyped prospect since Lebron. His dunks went viral in high school and everyone knew his name even before he made his college decision. It is no surprise that the main competition for Zion included Kentucky, Kansas, and UCLA.
His commitment to the Blue Devils was not surprising. He joined RJ Barrett and Cam Reddish at Duke which meant that the Devils had the top 3 players in that recruiting class. Zion carried all of the hype however. He lived up to the hype and produced 22.6 points per game, 8.9 rebounds per game, and 2.1 assists per game. His success on the court surprised no one and it led to the Pelicans drafting him 1st overall in last years draft.
Recruiting in the NCAA is terribly corrupt. There are plenty of rules in place that prevent coaches from basically bribing players to come to their school. Recently, the most prominent case involved also former #1 pick DeAndre Ayton. Ayton was one of the top recruits of the class of 2017. He went on to play for Sean Miller at the University of Arizona. Miller ultimately paid Ayton $10,000 to play for the Wildcats his freshmen season.
After Ayton comes Zion. Supposedly, his mother and step father demanded gifts, money, and other benefits from both Nike and Adidas, as well as people associated with Duke University. The goal was to get Zion to wear those brands and earn his commitment to the Blue Devils. Prosecuting attorneys has set out to prove the Zion was not eligible to play during his one season at Duke because of the benefits his family received. A Florida state judge recently ruled that Williamson must answer any and all questions regarding this matter.
This whole issue is just stupid. How many times have we seen teams get wins taken away retroactively because players were ineligible. It has not stopped boosters, coaches, and family members from providing and accepting benefits. There either needs to be a harsher penalty for this offense, or get rid of the rules entirely and pay NCAA D1 athletes. There is not enough to deter this behavior. It will keep happening unless one of the two aforementioned items takes place. The precedent is ruining the NCAA and collegiate sports. The fact that someone gave Zion Williamson and his family benefits to play for a certain school is the least surprising thing I have ever heard.
-Pete Chatterton (Pchat12)
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