The Blue Devils may have seen one era end with their Sweet 16 loss to Maryland, but another one could be in the making.

When Elizabeth Williams went to the Connecticut Sun with the fourth pick of the 2015 WNBA draft, it marked Duke’s highest selection since Lindsey Harding—whose jersey now hangs in the rafters of Cameron Indoor Stadium—went first overall in the 2007 draft.

“[The program will miss] the person she is, the leader she is, the person committed to Duke like she is,” Duke head coach Joanne P. McCallie said. “Elizabeth’s game is going to really take off now…. I’m really excited to watch her. We’ll miss her of course, very much.”

Elizabeth Williams terrorized opponents with her emphatic shot-blocking during her standout career in Durham. | Chronicle File Photo

The 6-foot-3 forward leaves behind a rewritten record book and a large gap that Duke will need to fill in her absence. Williams was a four-time ACC Defensive Player of the Year and earned AP All-America and first-team All-ACC honors in all four seasons in a Blue Devil uniform. The Virginia Beach, Va., native sits near the top of the charts in several categories, ranking second in program history with 1,078 career rebounds and third with an average of 7.9 rebounds per contest. Her 426 blocks rank ninth on the NCAA career list.

Williams undoubtedly left a hefty pair of shoes to fill, but sophomore Azura Stevens may be ready to fill them.

Stevens finished second to Williams in rebounds and rebounding average for Duke as a freshman, grabbing 271 total boards and averaging 8.2 per game. On the offensive end, Williams’ 14.5 points per game led the team with Stevens’ 14.1 close behind.

Azura Stevens tied the program record with 10 double-doubles as a freshman in 2014-15.

“Obviously [Stevens is] a special player—you can see rebounds and points, she can block shots and she can do a lot of different things on the floor,” McCallie said. “She’s just got so much potential.”

As a freshman, Williams averaged 14.0 points and 7.8 rebounds per game, meaning Stevens’ future looks bright if she continues to follow in her former teammate’s footsteps. Williams set a freshman record with 27 games in double-figure scoring, which Stevens bested by one game during her Blue Devil debut. Stevens also notched 10 double-doubles as a freshman, tying the program record set by Chris Moreland in the 1984-85 season.

Williams only continued to impress after her freshman year, recording more than 100 blocks in three of her four years in Durham, pulling down more rebounds with each successive year and jumping from 54 assists as a freshman to 81 as a senior.

That jack-of-all-trades mentality is something that rubbed off on Stevens watching Williams work last season.

“One of the main things that I would take away from [Williams]—there’s so many—just being persistent,” Stevens said. “It’s not all about scoring, but she was always giving us help, whether it be rebounds, assists, screens, anything—even the dirty work, she was always doing that.”

At 6-foot-5, Stevens may grow into the role of intimidating starting center, continuing the low post pipeline that has funneled Blue Devil forwards to the WNBA. Since 1999, Duke has sent 20 players to professional teams—more than half of them post players.

Stevens averaged 14.1 points per game as a freshman and showed a capable outside shot, hitting 33 percent of her attempts from downtown.

But Stevens’ talent is not restricted to under-the-basket play. The sophomore tallied 13 3-pointers on the season, a 51.2 percent field goal percentage and managed 35 steals through her 33 games as well, showing versatility from many spots on the court that is rarely seen for someone of her height.

With a roster that includes five freshmen and no true senior—redshirt senior Amber Henson is the only player with more than three years of experience—Stevens’ ability to play anywhere should provide consistency for McCallie’s squad.

“You’ll see her at the four, you’ll see her at the five, you’ll see her at the three,” McCallie said. “We’ll be very young—if you think about it, [guard Rebecca Greenwell] and Azura are only sophomores, so it’s going to be interesting to see who steps up and grabs those other spots.”

This summer, Stevens will have plenty of chances to improve her game as she plays for the USA National U19 World Championship team, which will compete at the 2015 FIBA Championship in Chekhov, Russia, in late July.

Stevens said one focal point for the summer will be to improve her post play in Williams’ absence in the coming season.

“[Improving play] down low—especially losing Elizabeth—that’s going to be a lot of help this year,” Stevens said. “Playing against some great post players and stuff every day will definitely help me in that area of my game.”

The Raleigh, N.C., entered the starting lineup toward the end of nonconference play in the four spot, combining her skill with the veteran experience of Williams to help the Blue Devils battle through a challenging 2014-15 slate. Stevens would occasionally move beyond the arc when fellow forwards Kendall Cooper, Oderah Chidom or Amber Henson subbed in to spell a starting guard.

“Whichever [position] my team needs me to do, I’m going to be willing to do it and work my hardest at that,” Stevens said.

Head coach Joanne P. McCallie said Stevens will have to improve her strength this summer to be effective both down low and on the perimeter.

Despite her early success, the sophomore still has room for improvement during the offseason to prepare for a new team and the 2015-16 campaign.

“She must get stronger—her strength is very important to her progress into her sophomore year,” McCallie said. “She really can play any position on the floor, and I just think that [she needs an] overall commitment to strength so that she can be caught up to the strongest players in the country and compete at the highest level, even in the most physical games.”

Amrith Ramkumar contributed reporting.