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Zion Williamson returning to Duke for sophomore season? Dream on...

Some believe Zion Williamson could earn $1 billion during his career as a basketball player.
Credit: AP
Duke's Zion Williamson celebrates after he scored against North Carolina State during the second half of a college basketball game on Feb. 16, 2019, in Durham, North Carolina.

Murray State sophomore guard Ja Morant officially declared for the 2019 NBA Draft on Wednesday.

Morant is considered by many to become the second overall pick in the draft behind Duke’s Zion Williamson.

It leads to the question: Does Williamson even need to hold a news conference to officially declare for the 2019 NBA Draft?

The only shocking revelation would be if Williamson decided to stay at Duke for another season. The NBA deadline to declare early for the 2019 draft is April 21.

There is way too much money at stake, but imagine a world where Williamson decided to play at Duke as a sophomore. The only thing crazier would be if the New York Knicks got the No. 1 overall pick and decided to pass on Williamson for another player. Knicks fans would probably riot and burn Madison Square Garden to the ground.

The sneaker war to sign Williamson is already well underway between Nike, Adidas, Under Armour, New Balance, Puma and a sportswear company named Anta. The sneaker endorsement deal will pay Williamson much more than his first NBA contract.

ESPN basketball analyst Fran Fraschilla told Forbes that Williamson could become the fifth athlete ever to earn $1 billion, joining Michael Jordan, Tiger Woods and Floyd Mayweather. LeBron James is also due to join them.

Future Hall of Famer turned ESPN analyst Paul Pierce tweeted the “hot take” that Williamson is already a top 50 player. You don’t say?! If Williamson has the potential and marketability to join the $1 billion club, don't you think he's already one of the 50 best players in the NBA? Saying Williamson is already a top 50 NBA player is like saying water is wet.

Pierce also managed to misspell the star player's name. As a professional NBA analyst, Pierce has a duty to do better because he is molding minds. Millions of people watch ESPN and he has more than 4 million Twitter followers.

Williamson would immediately be the best player on at least half of the teams in the NBA. As pointed out by Fox Sports Radio’s Collin Cowherd, Williamson is probably already a top 20 player before entering the league.

Even though we don’t know which team will earn the No. 1 pick, Williamson is the foregone conclusion as the first selection. The oddsmakers agree.

The NBA Draft Lottery is set for May 14, which is when we'll know which team earns the Williamson sweepstakes barring a trade.

The 2019 NBA Draft is scheduled for June 20. Instead of focusing on Williamson, NBA fans should ask themselves: Where is Ja?!

Mark Bergin is a journalist with 10News WTSP. Like him on Facebook and follow him on Twitter and Instagram. You can also email him at mbergin@wtsp.com.

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