RELATED LINK: Even if Derrick Williams leaves early, history shows the Wildcats can carry on
So what will happen if Derrick Williams leaves Arizona before his junior season and is chosen among the first five picks of the NBA draft in June? What will life be like at McKale Center in Year One of the post-Williams era? Is this the end of the world as we know it?
History tells us that Arizona will continue to have a heartbeat without Williams. In fact, the old ticker will continue to beat at a good rate.
This is how the Wildcats have fared after one of their stars was chosen among the first 10 picks of the NBA draft:
- 1979: Larry Demic, Sr. (9th pick). UA year later in 1979-80: 12-15
- 1989: Sean Elliott, Sr. (3rd pick). UA year later in 1989-90: 25-7
- 1991: Brian Williams, Jr. (10th pick). UA year later in 1991-92: 24-7
- 1995: Damon Stoudamire, Sr. (7th pick). UA year later in 1995-96: 27-6 (Sweet 16)
- 1998: Mike Bibby, Soph. (2nd pick). UA year later in 1998-99: 22-6
- 1999: Jason Terry, Sr. (10th pick). UA year later in 1999-2000: 27-7
- 2004: Andre Iguodala, Soph. (9th pick). UA year later in 2004-05: 30-7 (Elite Eight)
- 2005: Channing Frye, Sr. (8th pick). UA year later in 2005-06: 20-13
- 2009: Jordan Hill, Jr. (8th pick). UA year later in 2009-10: 16-15
That’s only one losing season after Demic’s departure when Fred Snowden was in the last stages of his coaching career. The other unimpressive mark is the 16-15 record after Hill left to the NBA after his junior season. That was Sean Miller‘s first season at Arizona. The transition after two interim coaches following Lute Olson‘s retirement was not easy.
Overall, in the season after these nine players departed (four of them prematurely), the UA posted a record of 213-83. That’s a winning percentage of 71.9. That’s also an average of 23.6 wins the season after the Wildcats were required to fill a significant void.
The combined 213-83 mark is only 14 games worse than the the record — 227-69 — of the season in which these nine players completed their Wildcat careers. That averages to only about 1.6 more losses in the season after a top 10 NBA draft pick departs Arizona.
The most significant dropoff is the amount of Sweet 16 and Elite Eight appearances. The Wildcats achieved a Sweet 16 (1995-96) and Elite Eight (2004-05) appearance in seasons after a high draft choice was taken. They achieved two Sweet 16s and two Elite Eights in the year these standouts completed their career.