April 7, 2019 / 5:51 PM / 16 days ago

Williamson wins Naismith player of year honor

Duke forward Zion Williamson continued his collection of accolades on Sunday when he won the 2019 Citizen Naismith Trophy as the top college basketball in the country, the Atlanta Tipoff Club announced during a press conference in Minneapolis.

FILE PHOTO: Mar 28, 2019; Washington, DC, USA; Duke Blue Devils forward Zion Williamson (1) shoots the ball during practice for the east regional of the 2019 NCAA Tournament at Capital One Arena. Amber Searls-USA TODAY Sports/File Photo

Williamson is the third freshman to win the honor, joining Kevin Durant of Texas in 2007 and Anthony Davis of Kentucky in 2012.

The other three finalists were Gonzaga junior forward Rui Hachimura, Tennessee junior forward Grant Williams and Murray State sophomore point guard Ja Morant.

Williamson won the Oscar Robertson Trophy and Associated Press Player of the Year honors on Friday. He also was the Atlantic Coast Conference Player of the Year. Williamson averaged 22.6 points, 8.9 rebounds, 2.1 assists and 1.8 blocks per game.

Williamson is the eighth Duke player to win the prestigious award.

“I want to thank the Citizen Naismith Trophy committee for selecting me as the Player of the Year. It is truly an honor to receive this and join such an elite list of former Blue Devils to have also won the award,” Williamson said in a statement. “There were so many great players who could have won this award this year. I can’t thank my teammates, coaches and family enough for helping me. This is a team award, and it’s an honor for me to accept this on behalf of my brothers.”

Williamson led Duke to a 32-6 record. The Blue Devils advanced to the Elite Eight, where they lost to Michigan State.

“Zion is absolutely deserving of this year’s Citizen Naismith Trophy. He handled himself with such class and humility this season, especially given what he accomplished, both individually and with his team,” Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski said in a statement. “Zion is a great representative of the game and is a pleasure to coach.

“Duke has a long history of Naismith winners, and Zion certainly belongs in that elite company.”

Duke’s most recent Naismith winner was JJ Redick in 2006. The other Blue Devils to earn the honor are Jason Williams (2002), Shane Battier (2001), Elton Brand (1999), Christian Laettner (1992), Danny Ferry (1989) and Johnny Dawkins (1986).

Williamson is expected to declare for the NBA draft and is projected to be the No. 1 overall pick.

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