Sophomore Mark Williams becomes the first domino to fall in the 2022 season and declares for the NBA Draft. The 7’1 Williams averaged 11.2 points per game as a sophomore and 2.8 blocks per contest. Williams from freshman to sophomore season increased his numbers in every statistical category. Williams was also a finalist for the 2022 Naismith men’s Defensive Player of the Year and was named to the Kareem Abdul-Jabbar Award Watch List. Williams also earned his second consecutive All-ACC Academic selection.
“These past two years have been great,” said Williams. “Having the ability to play in front of the best fans in the world, and receiving that support on the road and home was terrific. I want to thank Coach K and the rest of the staff for pushing me every day to be the best possible player I can be. This year was incredible. We were part of a historic run in Coach K’s last dance and made it to the Final Four. I want to congratulate Coach K on his retirement and I’m excited to see Coach Scheyer lead this new era of Duke Basketball. I want to thank my teammates because without them, the season we had wouldn’t have been possible. Playing in the NBA has always been a dream of mine. Duke has prepared me to take this next step and I’m excited to announce I’ll be declaring for the 2022 NBA Draft.”
A native of Virginia Beach, Va., Williams established himself as one of the nation’s premier rim protectors in his sophomore campaign. He led the ACC and ranked 12th in the NCAA in blocked shots per game (2.82), while his 110 total rejections were the fifth-most nationally. On the glass, Williams recorded 7.4 rebounds per contest, good for sixth in the ACC, and his 7.9 boards in conference-only games ranked third in the league. He is one of only two players in Duke history to record 100+ blocks in a season, joining Shelden Williams who did so three times.
“Mark was a joy to coach,” said head coach Mike Krzyzewski, who retired following the season. “This is such a special moment for him and his incredible family, and we will miss having the Williamses in our program. Mark was the ACC Defensive Player of the Year and one of the best shot blockers in the country, but that doesn’t tell the entire story about the type of player he is. He is gifted at both ends of the floor and is driven to get even better every day. The NBA team that drafts Mark is obviously getting a talented player, but an equally impressive young man off the court that will represent their organization with class. I cannot wait to watch him at the next level.”
The 7-foot-1 center also turned in one of the most efficient offensive seasons in Duke history, as his .721 field goal percentage (191-of-265) trailed only Christian Laettner’s .723 in 1989 on the Blue Devils’ single-season chart. Williams was the nation’s only player this season who shot .700+ from the floor and .700+ at the free throw line (minimum 100 field goals).
A consistent lob threat, Williams threw down 97 dunks, becoming the second Duke player with 90 or more in a season (Marvin Bagley III, 98 in 2017-18). The third-team All-ACC selection improved his scoring average by 4.1 points (7.1 to 11.2) from his freshman to sophomore season, while his field goal percentage increased from .664 to .721 and his rebounding from 4.5 per game to 7.4.
In five NCAA Tournament games, Williams averaged 13.2 points on .806 shooting (29-of-36) with 7.2 rebounds and 3.2 blocks to help lead Duke to the Final Four. His .806 field goal percentage set a Blue Devil record for a single NCAA Tournament (minimum 25 field goals), while his 16 blocked shots tied for the most by a Duke player in a single tournament.
The Blue Devils have had at least one player selected in 34 of 41 NBA Drafts under Krzyzewski. Coach K has tutored 68 draft picks since taking over the Duke program, including a Draft-record 42 first-round selections.