Mark Williams, top Duke, NC State recruiting target, transferring to IMG Academy

Mark Williams at EYBL Peach Jam

Duke and NC State target Mark Williams talks recruitment at the EYBL Peach Jam.
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Duke and NC State target Mark Williams talks recruitment at the EYBL Peach Jam.

A major basketball recfuiting target for Duke and N.C. State in the class of 2020 is on the move.

Mark Williams, a 7-foot forward from Norfolk Academy, tweeted Thursday that he was transferring to IMG Academy in Bradenton, Fla.

The IMG program has developed into a top landing spot for talented athletes in all sports. Last year, IMG Academy won at GEICO Nationals, led by current North Carolina freshman Armando Bacot, who spent one season at the school.

Former Duke guard Trevon Duval also played one year at IMG, which plays a national schedule against some of the top prep programs in the country.

Williams (7-0, 225) has offers from Duke and N.C. State, among others, but the Blue Devils might have the upper hand thanks to a family connection. Williams’ older sister, Elizabeth, played for Duke from 2011-2015, and Mark spent plenty of time on the Durham campus.

“I was there all the time when my sister was playing,” the younger Williams told the News & Observer at the Nike EYBL Peach Jam last week. “All of their home games I was pretty much there on the weekends. I’m familiar with the school.”

Williams did add that Elizabeth, now with the WNBA’s Atlanta Dream, has not put any pressure on him to follow in her footsteps and play for Duke.

“No, she just wants me to go wherever is the best fit for me, not necessarily there,” Williams said. “I mean if it’s there, it’s there, but wherever I feel the most comfortable, wherever I belong.”

Williams led the Virginia-based Boo Williams AAU team to the Nike EYBL semi finals after averaging 15.4 points per game in the tournament. Williams stepped up his game during the championship rounds, averaging 24 points and shooting 76 percent from the floor in two games.

Williams is ranked the No. 7 center in the nation according to 247Sports and the No. 37 player overall. He is considered a four-star prospect.

While Duke might appear to be in the lead, Stanford, Ohio State and UCLA are also in the mix. This summer for Boo Williams, Williams teamed with Cameron Thomas, another top target for N.C. State, and was asked about the two of them playing together at the next level.

“I think it’s more letting everyone else talk about it, I don’t think it’s necessarily us,’ Williams said with a smile. “We’re playing together now so we just let everyone else talk about it so when that time comes we’ll see.”

At IMG, Williams will play with another talented guard with ties to North Carolina. Jaden Springer, the No. 11 player in the class of 2020, played at IMG last season and is expected to return. Springer is from the Charlotte area and recently released his top five, with UNC being the favorite.

Williams is still developing and is still in talks with teams about his role on the next level. Schools are in discussing Williams coming in and being a role player as a freshman, but a few schools, mainly Ohio State, have talked about building a class around him.

“Them and Stanford,” Williams said. “Those two schools, and Duke really, need a big. They need somebody who can fill that position and do things like create for my teammates.”

Heading into the Peach Jam, Williams said the schools he heard from the most were Duke, Michigan, N.C. State, Ohio State, Stanford, UCLA and Vanderbilt.

Sports reporter Jonas Pope IV covers college recruiting, high school sports, NC Central and the ACC for the Herald-Sun and The News & Observer.