Duke basketball: Mark Williams may flirt with program record

Duke basketball center Mark Williams (Rob Kinnan-USA TODAY Sports)
Duke basketball center Mark Williams (Rob Kinnan-USA TODAY Sports) /

In one regard, Mark Williams is outdoing “The Landlord” of Duke basketball.

Through 11 games this season, Duke basketball center Mark Williams is averaging 6.1 blocks per 40 minutes.

Is that good? Well, compare it to legendary Blue Devil big man Shelden Williams, whose No. 23 forever hangs from Cameron Stadium’s rafters due in large part to his oh-so-frequent block parties. As a senior in 2005-06, “The Landlord” averaged only 4.6 blocks per 40 minutes — 1.5 fewer than Mark Williams — while setting a single-season program record with 137 altogether.

Already, with his 33 swats for the No. 2 Duke Blue Devils (10-1, 0-0 ACC), Mark Williams has eclipsed his freshman total of 32, which was the seventh-highest mark in the ACC last season. As a sophomore, the 7-foot, 245-pound Virginia native leads the conference with a total that is almost 60 percent of his team’s combined 57 blocks.

Duke basketball record within reach

Assume for the sake of this article that Duke basketball destiny includes deep runs in both the ACC Tournament and NCAA Tournament come March, potentially equating to 40 games overall this go-round. In that case, it would look as if Mark Williams is currently just off the pace from surpassing Shelden Williams’ Blue Devil record for total blocks in a season (again, 137 is the number to beat).

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Considering his per-40-minute block average this season is unprecedented among all-time Blue Devils, the only thing that may prevent Mark Williams from breaking Shelden Williams’ season-total record is his relatively limited playing time. He’s averaging only 19.7 minutes per game this season; Shelden Williams averaged 33.3 minutes as a senior.

Imagine how many blocks Mark Williams might have if he played more than 30 minutes per game.

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Williams, record-breaking or not, has become a projected 2022 first-round draft pick. The 20-year-old full-time starter is putting up career-high averages across the board with 9.2 points, 5.8 rebounds, and 3.0 blocks per game while shooting 68.8 percent from the field and 65.0 percent from the charity stripe.