Duke basketball: Key Blue Devils target deserves fifth star

Duke basketball (Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)
Duke basketball (Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images) /

A 7-footer with a Duke basketball offer already in hand has shown enough “nasty” this summer to prove the offer was no mistake.

The Duke basketball coaches obviously liked what they saw from Mark Williams before extending an offer to the four-star 2020 center back in late April.

After all, Williams, the younger brother to former Duke women’s basketball great Elizabeth Williams, is a friendly, well-spoken teen with the size Mike Krzyzewski and his staff need (considering the expected departures following next season of all Blue Devils taller than 6-foot-8).

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But does the 7-foot-1, 225-pounder’s kind demeanor limit his effectiveness in the paint when facing bruisers with bad tempers?

Not anymore, according to a Wednesday article from Rivals’ Eric Bossi listing a handful of what he termed “2020 ranking risers.”

"“One of the knocks against Williams – if you can really call it a knock – is that he’s too ‘nice’ of a kid,” Bossi wrote. “Well, during the past few months he’s really learned how to bring out the nasty in his game.“He’s projecting as a big-time rim protector and rebounder and that, combined with his size and emerging offense, means we have to at least discuss him as a potential five-star prospect.”"

The last time 247Sports updated its composite rankings — takes into account Rivals’ rankings and others — Williams climbed eleven spots to No. 37.

Not that the number of stars — nor a player’s ranking — dictate how he will ultimately perform at the college level, but the five-stars begin at No. 25. Williams’ current No. 51 Rivals ranking doesn’t help.

Since the last rankings came out, though, the Virginia native, who will play his senior season for IMG Academy in Florida, has impressed coaches and experts alike with his aggressive play and surprising agility.

At Peach Jam earlier this month, playing for his Boo Williams (Va.) EYBL squad, Williams averaged a head-turning 15.4 points, 10.2 boards, and 2.0 blocks against many of the nation’s five-stars.

And now Williams has Duke’s two 2020 commits — five-stars Jalen Johnson and Jeremy Roach — regularly in his ear about teaming up with them as Blue Devils the season after next.

Williams, who now holds 23 total offers, has said he will put out his first list in the next few weeks and make an official visit to Duke in either August or September (a good sign the Blue Devils will make his cut).

At the moment, six of the eight experts to have entered picks for his 247Sports Crystal Ball see him playing in Durham. Williams expects to make his final decision by winter at the latest, but he could be ready to sign in November.

Other 2020 prospects with offers still on the table from Duke include five-star center Walker Kessler, five-star point forward Cade Cunningham, five-star small forward Ziaire Williams, four-star combo guard D.J. Steward, and four-star power forward Henry Coleman.

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