Sean Miller: No need for Derrick Williams to be so humble on the courtby Anthony Gimino on Aug. 03, 2010, under Sports
Arizona Wildcats basketball coach Sean Miller has offseason goals for each of his players, and his talks with sophomore star forward Derrick Williams have gone something like this:
Stop being so, uh, nice.
Williams, coming off a season in which he earned Pac-10 Freshman of the Year honors, will be vying for bigger individual and team prizes this season.
He is as good a candidate as any — Washington State guard Klay Thompson, Washington guard Isaiah Thomas? — for preseason Pac-10 Play of the Year.
Various 2011 NBA mock drafts project Williams as a potential lottery pick after this season.
Miller didn’t want to comment about those possibilities, although he did add that he never will be the kind of coach who stands in the way of something that is good for his players. If, after the season, he thinks Williams is good enough to fulfill his dreams … then the coach will help in whatever way he can.
Miller also added that any decision by Williams will be well-reasoned.
“The great gift that Derrick has is that he has a mom who is really special,” Miller said. “He has a terrific relationship with her. I don’t know if I have ever met a parent who is more grounded than her. He has people in his life who are about the right things.”
Williams averaged 15.7 points, 7.1 rebounds and shot 57.4 percent from the field as a freshman. He spent part of the summer competing at various camps across the country, including at the LeBron James Skills Academy in early July.
“He’s just so well-rounded,” a scout told Jason King of Yahoo! Sports last month. “There’s really not much he can’t do -– and he’s only going to get better because he works so hard.”
Miller refers to Williams as a humble young man and a humble player.
“It’s his greatest strength and, sometimes, his greatest weakness,” Miller said.
“You want him to assert himself and dominate in order to have that edge to him on the court. … That humbleness and humility he has as a person, sometimes you want him to drop that at the door when he goes on the court because he’s so talented and the impact he can make is so significant. That is one of the things we talk about.”
As it turned out, Williams — the least heralded of Arizona’s five freshmen last season — is now the headliner. He is expected to help lead the Wildcats back to the NCAA Tournament and in contention for the Pac-10 title.
(I can tell you this … Arizona will be picked second in the Pac-10 behind Washington in Lindy’s College Basketball Annual.)
“He knows this: Very few players get drafted from teams that are 16-15, especially in the first round,” Miller said. “For any player on our team to have that individual success, we have to get better and get back to having team success.”