Duke Basketball: Blue Devils likely to host much-needed 2020 center

Duke basketball (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
Duke basketball (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images) /

A potential key piece to the Duke basketball coaches’ 2020 class is aiming to use an official visit to see what it is like to be a Blue Devil.

At the risk of sounding like a broken record, the Duke basketball program must get busy landing 2020 centers in order to compensate for the assumption that no returning bigs are currently on tap for the 2020-21 season.

Javin DeLaurier, Jack White, and Justin Robinson will run out of eligibility after next season. And incoming freshmen Vernon Carey Jr. and Matthew Hurt will likely bolt for the NBA after next season.

So a commitment from four-star Mark Williams is vital — even more so if five-star Walker Kessler, the only other big man currently holding a Duke offer, opts to go elsewhere (Kessler hopes to get his decision out of the way by the start of his senior season).

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Fortunately, the Blue Devil coaches seem to be in an envious position in Williams’ recruitment.

First, they hold the lead in the Crystal Ball. Two of the four experts to have entered picks see the 7-foot-1, 225-pound native of Norfolk, Va., playing in Durham.

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Plus, Williams is the brother of former Duke women’s basketball great Elizabeth Williams; therefore, the younger sibling is already familiar with the campus.

Finally, at the NBA Top 100 Camp on Thursday, Williams told reporters that three of his allotted five official visits next season will probably be to Duke, Ohio State, and UCLA. He did not, however, provide a timeline for the visits.

Williams, who holds 22 offers, did tell reporters he expects to trim his list after Peach Jam (July 10-14). Also, he recently told Tipton Edits he is looking to choose a college by the end of next winter.

Although Williams only ranks No. 48 on the 247Sports Composite, he recently rose 17 spots to No. 35 on the Top247, suggesting his game has either drastically improved as of late or suddenly attracted more attention from the recruiting experts at 247Sports.

He could use some beefing up, but he certainly seems to possess the length, acumen, shot-blocking ability, soft touch, and surprisingly nifty handles to regularly give ACC opponents headaches.

Considering nearly one-fifth of the combined 16 retired jerseys between the men’s and women’s programs at Duke share his surname — and he is related to one of them — the Blue Devil coaching staff can’t go wrong by making this Williams an integral piece to their desperate-for-bigs 2020 class.

The class already contains a five-star point guard: Jeremy Roach, who verbally committed in May.

ALSO READ: Recent early commits have been kind to Duke

And other than Williams and Kessler, Duke has offers on the table to four 2020 prospects, all five-stars: small forward Jalen Johnson, point forward Cade Cunningham, small forward Scottie Barnes, and shooting guard B.J. Boston.

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