The 18-year-old tipped to be the next big thing in basketball was injured after only 33 seconds on Wednesday, when his Nike shoe fell apart.

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Zion Williamson, who is the projected number one pick in June’s NBA Draft, has been dubbed the ‘next LeBron James’.

Former US president Barack Obama was among the crowd as Williamson’s Duke University played local rivals North Carolina.

Blue Devils forward Williamson, hailed by double NBA champion Kevin Durant as a “once in a generation athlete”, hurt his left knee after his foot burst through his shoe when he landed while dribbling.

The rubber sole ripped loose from the Nike shoe, with the sportswear giant – Duke’s exclusive supplier of uniforms, shoes and clothing – saying in a statement: “We are obviously concerned and want to wish Zion a speedy recovery.

“The quality and performance of our products are of utmost importance. While this is an isolated occurrence, we are working to identify the issue.”

Williamson left the court and did not return, with Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski confirming he had suffered a mild knee sprain, with information on his recovery to be revealed later on Thursday.

Unprecedented demand had seen tickets to watch the teenager in Wednesday’s local derby eclipse NFL Super Bowl prices thanks to the ‘Zion Effect’.

And his spectacular performances in college basketball mean when he turns professional he could earn $1bn, an ESPN college basketball analyst told Forbes, joining six-time NBA champion Michael Jordan, 14-time golf major winner Tiger Woods and former five-weight world champion Floyd Mayweather as a member of the billion dollar club.

The 2019 NBA Draft will take place on 20 June at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York, with Williamson a 1-20 odds-on favourite to be the number one pick.

Zion’s injury meant North Carolina won 88-72 in the 46th meeting between the rivals.

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