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Should Duke's Zion Williamson consider shutting it down?

Tickets to Wednesday night's Duke-North Carolina game are selling for a minimum of $3,000. What does the star freshman have left to prove?
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.

DURHAM, N.C. — The face value of a ticket to Wednesday night’s North Carolina at Duke men’s college basketball game is about $67.

As of Wednesday morning, the cheapest ticket on StubHub is $3,088.88 to see the No. 1 Blue Devils host the No. 8 Tar Heels at Cameron Indoor Stadium. The cost does not include service fees and taxes.

Some estimates have shown ticket prices on the resale market are even more expensive.

The price is more than the $2,674 spent for the cheapest available ticket to Super Bowl LIII on Feb. 3, TickPick marketing strategist Kyle Zorn told ESPN.

Many people attribute the high demand for tickets to Cameron Indoor Stadium – which only seats 9,314 people – to Duke freshman Zion Williamson.

Zorn compared Williamson’s impact on Duke ticket prices to LeBron James after he signed with the Los Angeles Lakers last summer.

There are several reports former U.S. President Barack Obama will attend Wednesday night’s UNC-Duke game.

Williamson is considered among the elite college players. It’s almost a guarantee Williamson will be a lottery pick in the 2019 NBA Draft. Some believe he will be the No. 1 pick in the draft on June 20.

Williamson’s teammates R.J. Barrett and Cam Reddish are currently projected top-five picks.

In January, NBA Hall of Famer and basketball analyst Scottie Pippen said on ESPN’s “The Jump” he would stop playing for Duke immediately if he were Williamson.

“I would stop playing because I feel that he could risk a major injury that could really hurt his career,” Pippen said.

It might seem ridiculous, but ESPN college basketball analyst Fran Fraschilla told Forbes that he thinks Williamson will make $1 billion playing basketball "effortlessly."

Only three athletes have made $1 billion in their playing careers, according to reports: Michael Jordan, Tiger Woods and Floyd Mayweather. James will likely join the three before retiring.

At some point could we see elite college basketball players like Williamson play only part of a season before declaring for the NBA draft?

Several notable college football players have skipped their bowl games to start preparing for the NFL draft over the last several seasons. It's a trend that started in 2016 with running backs Christian McCaffrey of Stanford and Leonard Fournette of LSU. It's still early in their careers, but both players have had NFL success.

If you’re an elite college basketball player, at what point does the benefit of national exposure, collegiate game experience and a freshman-level college education outweigh the risk of getting hurt?

Put it this way: If you were an NBA general manager, wouldn’t you still draft Williamson with a first-round pick even if he decided to stop playing for Duke?

What more does Williamson have left to prove, especially with ticket prices skyrocketing? ESPN reported one ticket for the UNC-Duke game sold for $10,652 on Vivid Seats.

Williamson has been terrific this season.

While Duke is trying to win a national championship, which could add to Williamson’s legend, he should at least consider playing only part of this season.

There is the argument of receiving a Duke education, but Williamson's purpose in Durham is to be a star basketball player before going to the NBA. Also, one could argue Williamson's best preparation for the NBA is playing under legendary Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski.

However, it wouldn’t be surprising if future star freshman decided it wasn’t worth it to continue playing midway through the season.

So much for a one-and-done player; perhaps we’re approaching the half-and-done era.

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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