Why Zion Williamson should NOT stay away from the rest of the season

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The fact that Zion Williamson is already the first choice in this year's NBA draft does not mean he has nothing to gain financially by resuming this season of college basketball.

Sports business experts told Yahoo Sports on Thursday that the Duke star could significantly increase his approval potential if he returned from injury in time for the NCAA tournament and shone on the biggest basketball scene university.

Williamson is already the # 1 target of college basketball for the shoe giants this year. Leading a national title for a month, even when casual supporters focused their attention on college basketball, would only exacerbate the shoe auction war for Williamson and make it more appealing to advertisers outside the world of athletics.

"Assuming that the knee is 100%, he should want to get out as soon as possible," said Bob Dorfman, executive director of Baker Street Advertising, based in San Francisco. "This guy is really very charismatic and comfortable in front of a camera. It therefore has the potential to go beyond shoe and equipment contracts. The more it reaches a wider audience, the more popular it becomes and the more advertisers will be attracted to it. "

<p class = "canvas-atom canvas-text Mb (1.0em) Mb (0) – sm Mt (0.8em) – sm" type = "text" content = "If Williamson should spend the rest of his first year season to Duke has been discussed with fervor since he suffered a right knee injury in the first minute of his The defeat of the team against North Carolina On Wednesday night Duke's coach, Mike Krzyzewski, described the injury as a slight sprain and refused to speculate on Williamson's return. "Data-reactid =" 20 "> The question of whether Williamson should spend the rest of his season at Duke has been hotly debated since a right knee injury in the first minute after his team's loss to North Carolina On Wednesday night, Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski called the injury a slight sprain and refused to speculate on Williamson's possible return.

<p class = "canvas-atom web-text Mb (1.0em) Mb (0) – sm Mt (0.8em) – sm" type = "text" content = "Current and former NBA players, including DeMarcus Cousins , Scottie Pippen and Trae Young have each encouraged Williamson to consider closing the rest of the season no matter how quickly his injured knee heals. They suggest to Williamson to follow the example of potential footballers who have skipped bowling matches instead of risking injuries that could damage their NFL stock. "Data-reactid =" 21 "> Current and former NBA players including DeMarcus Cousins, Scottie Pippen and Trae Young have all encouraged Williamson to consider stopping for the rest of the season no matter how fast his injured knee heals, suggesting that Williamson follows the example of football hopefuls who skipped bowling matches instead of risking injuries that could damage their NFL stock.

Before his injury, Williamson is mocked at the idea of ​​spending the rest of the season because he likes to play Duke, he wants to win a national championship and he does not want to drop his teammates and coaches. If he needs another reason to play once he's fully recovered from his injury, he might also consider boosting his brand image with a shining march month.

Zion Williamson reacts after the fall of his shoe in the first half against the North Carolina Tar Heels at Cameron Indoor Stadium on February 20, 2019 in Durham, North Carolina. (Getty Images)

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"Success in the NCAA Tournament will generate more sponsorship revenue for him," said Eric Smallwood, President of Apex Marketing Group. "He's going to make more money as a rookie if he finishes the season in style at Duke, but not as a rookie if he sits down. This would give him a launch pad. He would have trouble going from college to pros. "

Williamson was on the radar of advertisers long before graduating from high school. The South Carolina native arrived in Duke with nearly 2 million Instagram followers, a product of his charisma in front of a camera and his rare mix of size, agility and explosiveness .

In the six months that Williamson has spent with Duke until now, his marketing influence has only steadily increased. Nobody in college basketball has generated a craze or interest such as the 6-foot-7, 285-pound front, with a vertical jump that defies virtually any measure.

Williamson went from the projected lottery selection to a favorite favorite and was ranked No. 1 in the overall standings with an average of 22.4 points and 9.2 rebounds (Wednesday's start), while posting a track record. dazzling for its size. It is the rare university player who is identified only by his first name. He is responsible for most of the most viral moments of the season, from dunks in the foul line to off-set passes, and seemingly unfathomable blocked shots.

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When asked if they could remember a college basketball player with a greater marketing appeal, the sports industry experts let themselves be shaken.

"It's a long time," said Mark Conrad, director of the Fordham University Sports Business Program.

"I suppose you're going back to Shaq, maybe?" Said Dorfman. "But more recently, I can not think of anyone. I have not seen anyone have so much attention around him in recent years. "

The increased popularity of Williamson before the NBA project will depend on what he will accomplish in March.

If he stays seated, this could temporarily interrupt his momentum and bring him down from the national radar until the NBA project gets closer. If he produces a handful of memorable moments and leads Duke far into the NCAA tournament, this can only boost his stature and his celebrity.

"A very big step for him could absolutely improve his sponsorship opportunities," said Conrad. "I would say it could be worth seven digits, maybe eight for a long-term contract, if he's leading his team to the national title, creating the key baskets, whatever you want."

In the end, Williamson will have to weigh the risk of extra injury against what he would drop by letting the rest of what is likely to be his only college basketball season. It would be disgusting to see him hurt himself again and damage his shot at the NBA's riches, but it's also wrong to say he has nothing to gain financially by playing Duke again.

"In the NCAA Tournament, you have a wider audience and many more peripheral observers," said Dorfman. "This leads to more popularity and attention. The more fans you build, the better it will be for the long run. "

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