Duke basketball: Projected starters without AJ Griffin

Duke basketball (Photo by Lance King/Getty Images)
Duke basketball (Photo by Lance King/Getty Images) /
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Duke basketball
Duke basketball center Mark Williams (Nell Redmond-USA TODAY Sports) /

Projected Duke basketball starter against Kentucky: Mark Williams

Indeed, all Mark Williams may need to do to ensure his starting spot at center for the long haul is to play with the same level of aggression and awareness he displayed in his most recent game.

In that game — a 70-56 win over Louisville at the ACC Tournament in March before a positive COVID-19 test within the program unceremoniously ended the Duke Blue Devils’ discouraging campaign — the 7-foot, 245-pound freshman tallied some eye-popping stats:

  • 23 points
  • 19 rebounds, including seven of the offensive variety
  • One block
  • One steal
  • 9-for-14 shooting from the field
  • Only three fouls in 33 minutes on the floor

That’ll work, sure enough.

As a sophomore and the only listed scholarship center on the roster, Williams now has a shot at becoming an All-ACC performer and perhaps one of the premier big men in the country. On the other hand, the 20-year-old Virginia Beach native will need to avoid foul trouble and fatigue — not to mention bad luck in the injury department — before snagging any awards.

Next. 30 reasons Duke will win 30 games this season. dark

However, so long as Mark Williams doesn’t take a giant step backward, there’s no reason to think the jolly giant will play himself out of the starting lineup at any point throughout the season.