Duke basketball phenom Zion Williamson has taken out insurance to protect his future earning potential against the exact type of injury scare he experienced when his Nike sneaker exploded during Wednesday night’s game against the North Carolina Tar Heels, according to a report.
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Williamson, a 6-foot-7, 285-pound freshman known for his freakish athleticism, has an $8 million policy with International Specialty Insurance (ISI) that kicks in if he falls outside the top-16 picks in the 2019 NBA Draft due to injury, The Action Network’s Darren Rovell reported. The 18-year-old forward is widely expected to be the first overall selection in this year’s draft.
ISI representatives did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the report.
Williamson’s first-ever appearance against the rival Tar Heels ended less than a minute into the game when his Nike sneaker popped as he attempted to make a cut. The freshman fell to the floor while holding his right knee and was later diagnosed with a mild sprain.
Duke covered the cost of the insurance policy, which likely cost around $50,000, Rovell reported, citing sources familiar with the matter. The NCAA includes a fact-sheet for loss-of-value insurance on its website.
The policy “protects a student-athlete’s future contract value from decreasing below a predetermined amount due to a significant injury or illness suffered during the policy’s designated coverage period. It is typically purchased for the year leading up to the athlete’s draft eligibility. It requires medical underwriting, and may include exclusions for specific pre-existing injuries or illnesses,” according to the NCAA.
The NBA’s so-called “one-and-done” rule prevents players from making the jump directly from high school to the pros. The rule, which has existed since 2006, requires players to be at least 19 years old before they can enter the NBA Draft.
The “one-and-done” policy has drawn widespread criticism due to the artificial limit it imposes on a player’s earning potential – especially given ongoing questions about the NCAA’s amateurism model. Collegiate sports’ governing body has faced repeated legal challenges aimed at forcing the NCAA to share revenue with its players.
After Williamson’s injury, several current and former NBA players renewed their criticism of the NCAA’s policies, with some urging the Duke star to sit out the remainder of the season rather than risk further injury.
“Again let’s remember all the money that went into this game…and these players get none of it….and now Zion gets hurt….something has to change @NCAA,” Utah Jazz star Donovan Mitchel wrote on Twitter.