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Stephen A. Smith Thinks Duke Basketball Could Be 'In Trouble'

Zion Williamson warming up for the New Orleans Pelicans.

NEW ORLEANS, LOUISIANA - JANUARY 18: Zion Williamson #1 of the New Orleans Pelicans warms up before a game against the LA Clippers at the Smoothie King Center on January 18, 2020 in New Orleans, Louisiana. (Photo by Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images)

Zion Williamson is currently embroiled in a lawsuit against Prime Sports Marketing, a company that represented him briefly last spring. A recent judge decision could present some significant peril to the Duke basketball program.

Williamson's legal team requested a stay on discovery in the case. On Tuesday, Judge David Miller of the Florida 11th Circuit Court ruled against the request. That could open up the potential for the former Duke star to take the stand under oath.

The legal team of Gina Ford, the Prime Sports agent that Williamson signed with before backing out of his deal, is accusing the basketball star of receiving impermissible benefits as a recruit and college player. If that is proven as a result of this lawsuit, it puts a huge target on the Duke program. Williamson's team is expected to appeal the judge's decision.

Williamson backed out of his five-year agreement with Prime Sports, citing Ford's failure to offer protections under North Carolina’s Uniform Athlete Agent Act (UAAA). He went on to sign with CAA. The two sides have now sued one another after the broken deal. On Wednesday, ESPN's Stephen A. Smith drove home the risk this poses to Duke.

"So Zion Williamson, we’ve got to keep our eyes on this situation because the objective is to have him under oath answering questions directly as it pertains to his eligibility," Stephen A. Smith said on First Take. "You and I both know what kind of trouble you can get into if you commit perjury, if you lie under oath."

He's not sure if this will splash all the way back on head coach Mike Krzyzewski, who is about as untouchable as it gets in the sports world. The NCAA is also notorious for handing down justice in a very unbalanced manner, especially when elite college basketball programs are involved. Still, it will look very bad for Coach K and his program if Zion is compelled to admit that he received impermissible benefits to attend Duke.

“This could have incredible implications when it comes to Duke, Mike Krzyzewski, or anybody, maybe not Coach K. Maybe it’s other people associated with Duke’s program,” Smith added. “If you’re accusing the man of taking improper and illegal benefits—and the key words here was before and while he was at Duke—now Duke may have a problem depending on what level of testimony is given here."

This story has flown under the radar given everything else happening in the country, but this case is one to watch for sure.

[">ESPN]