Zion Williamson was the No. 1 overall pick in the 2019 NBA Draft. But his decision to declare for the draft wasn’t something that came easy for the 19-year-old.

Williamson, drafted by the New Orleans Pelicans, wanted to return to Duke. His mom, stepdad and Coach Mike Krzyzewski, however, urged against it.

“It was like the deadline. I think at the deadline when you had to declare, you had to say, ‘All right, what are you gonna do? Declare or not?'” he said on the “J.J. Reddick Podcast” as transcribed by ForTheWin. “Me, I wanted to go back, Nobody ever believes me, they think I’m just saying that. But no, I genuinely wanted to go back. I felt like the NBA wasn’t going anywhere. You know, the money thing — that’s money. I don’t play this for money. I play because I genuinely love the game. I just loved my experience at Duke that much where I wanted to stay.

“But it was one of those situations where Coach K’s not gonna let me come back because he wants me to do what’s best for the family. My teammates are saying, ‘Man, that would be dope if you come back.’ But at the same time, they’re telling me I would be leaving too much,” he added. “I did the work this long to get to that. It was tough. At the end of the day, I think it was kinda my mom. She said she was gonna support me whatever I do, so I was like, ‘All right, I’m going back.’ And then I think her and my stepdad talked about it, and they were like, ‘You worked too hard to get to this moment. You’d feel bad if you left it.’”

Williamson has yet to make his Pelicans debut after undergoing knee surgery in October. He is expected to return soon.

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