Duke freshman Zion Williamson has been named the Sporting News National Player of the Year, while he and teammate R.J. Barrett have been honored as first-team All-America selections by the publication.
Williamson becomes the 11th Blue Devil to be named a National Player of the Year, winning the program’s 56th total NPOY honor. The Spartanburg, S.C., 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.
With Williamson and Barrett both selected as first-team All-Americans, they become just the 36th set of teammates in NCAA history – and second set of freshman teammates – to be honored as first-team All-Americans in the same season. It last occurred in 2010 with fellow freshmen John Wall and DeMarcus Cousins from Kentucky. Prior to Wall and Cousins, Duke has had the last four occurrences with Redick and Shelden Williams in 2006, Mike Dunleavy and Jason Williams in 2002, Battier and Williams in 2001 and Brand and Trajan Langdon in 1999. All-time Duke and Kentucky lead the nation, each with six of the 36 occurrences.
Although missing the better part of the final six regular season games due to a knee injury, 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. A finalist for the Wooden Award, the Naismith Award and the Karl Malone Award, Williamson is the nation’s only player averaging more than 20 points per game and shooting better than .650 from the field.
The freshman ranks third among ACC players in total points scored, while he stands second in scoring (21.6), third in rebounding (8.8), and leads the conference (second nationally) in field goal percentage (.683). The 6-foot-7, 285-pound forward has also provided an intimidating defensive presence, ranking second in the ACC in steals (2.2) and fourth in blocked shots (1.85).
Barrett, a native of Mississauga, Ontario, is one of two players nationally – and the only one in power conferences – averaging 20 points, seven rebounds and four assists. The first-team All-ACC freshman and runner-up to Williamson in both ACC Player and Freshman of the Year voting, is the conference’s leading scorer at 23.3 points. He is sixth in the conference in assists (4.2) and 12th in rebounds (7.4). Barrett holds both the Duke and ACC freshman scoring records with 724 points, and the ACC freshman record for 20-point games (23).
No. 5 Duke opens play in the New York Life ACC Tournament on Thursday, March 14 in Charlotte with a quarterfinal matchup against Syracuse, Boston College or Pitt. The game is set for 9 p.m. ET on ESPN.