Another year, another new crop of men's basketball players coming to Durham. In this series, we will analyze film on each of Duke’s signees and transfers for the 2020-21 season. Previous film rooms include Jalen Johnson, DJ Steward and Jeremy Roach. Let’s continue with the next man up to grace a Blue Devil uniform as a dominant inside presence, Mark Williams:
There’s a vacancy on Duke’s roster right now and it comes at the crucial center position. With Vernon Carey Jr. declaring for the NBA draft and Javin DeLaurier graduating, the Blue Devils have been left with a massive hole in the five-spot. Mark Williams' size and natural abilities on both ends of the floor make him a perfect candidate to be the next man up.
Among a star-studded group entering the 2020-21 season, Williams seems to be a lock to start at the five. His 7-foot, 230 pound frame gives him two inches and ten pounds on the next biggest teammate, Patrick Tapé. Additionally, he’s the only player listed as a center on Duke’s roster. But what distinguishes Williams from the rest of the crowd is his quick reaction time and high basketball IQ, which allow him to be an efficient shot blocker and ferocious finisher on the interior.
The Norfolk Academy and IMG Academy product dominated during his senior year on the Nike EYBL circuit before playing in the Nike Peach Jam, where he posted 23.0 points, 12.5 rebounds and 2.5 blocks per game, while shooting at a 76 percent clip. Williams was a 2020 McDonald’s All-American and was ranked 30th overall (No. 5 center) on ESPN’s Top 100. These achievements aren’t unusual for Duke-caliber talent, but that’s only a taste of what the Virginia Beach, Virginia native brings to the table.
A second jump around the rim is Williams' most lethal ability. It’s something that Zion Williamson perfected in his time at Duke and Williams will only get better at. At his height and athletic ability, there isn’t much defenders can do to stop him, but being able to get off the ground as quickly as he does prevents anyone else from even having a chance. This plays two ways as well, when it comes to defensive rebounding after some strong defense.
Williams possess an innate ability to create contact when he needs to and avoid it when he wants to. This is a trait that so many collegiate big men don’t have. Williams can finesse his way around defenders just as strongly as he can go right at them. It leaves defenders guessing and before they can pick a defensive strategy, Williams is already at the rim.
Get Overtime, all Duke athletics
Signup for our editorially curated, weekly newsletter. Cancel at any time.
On the defensive end, Williams is a shot-blocking machine. His size gives him an immediate advantage on the interior, but he additionally has long arms and a quick release that allow him to erase plays and snag shots out of the air. Williams provides an intimidation factor to the Duke squad. The constant presence of a shot-blocker of his caliber is enough to keep players out of the paint and force more difficult outside shots.
As all incoming freshman players do, Williams will need to bulk up more before the season starts. With a little more added strength, the 18-year old will be an absolute force on the interior, ready to viciously throw down lobs from the Jeremy Roach-Jordan Goldwire backcourt duo.