Let’s start with Arizona Wildcats legend Steve Kerr, who has been a game analyst during the NCAA Tournament.
Kerr was a guest on XTRA 910-AM in Phoenix on Friday, talking about where UA sophomore Derrick Williams stands in the program’s lore. Sean Elliott still is No. 1.
“Derrick is probably the next-best player in Arizona history when all is said and done,” Kerr said. “Just an incredible talent.”
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Kerr on Arizona’s second-year head coach Sean Miller: “We should all get down on our knee and thank somebody that we got Sean Miller.”
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Paola Boivin of the Arizona Republic:
LA MIRADA, Calif. — The basketball hoop outside Derrick Williams’ childhood home is sufficient but non-descript. It looms above a white garage door, weathered and barking for action.
It’s hard not to stare. How did a skinny 10-year-old use this birthday gift as a springboard for college greatness? The answer, of course, has only a little to do with this 18-inch diameter rim and much more to do with the choices he and his mother made in this southeast suburb of Los Angeles.
“He could play just about any sport well,” his mother, Rhoma Moore, said, Friday. “But basketball …”
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Eric Prisbell, the Washington Post:
ANAHEIM, Calif. — Having played on the same team as Derrick Williams during a summer camp in Ohio, Kemba Walker was well aware of Williams’s talents. But after seeing him score 25 points in the first half of Arizona’s West region semifinal victory over Duke on Thursday night, Walker had another thought.
“The first thing that came to mind was that he might be the best player in the country,” Walker, Connecticut’s star junior guard, said of the Wildcats’ standout sophomore forward. “The best player I have seen this year.”
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UConn coach Jim Calhoun on Arizona’s second-half blitz against Duke:
“I talked to a friend of mine who went to Arizona, and he said it’s the best basketball half he’s ever seen in the history of Arizona basketball. I don’t know how it ranks in Arizona basketball, but it’s probably as good of a half as you’re going to see any team play.
“Obviously, Duke has a terrific basketball team, clearly one of the best teams in America. Quite frankly, Arizona made it look easy, and I know it wasn’t.”
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ESPN analyst Jay Bilas was a guest on Zagsblog and SNY.TV, talking about the Arizona-UConn matchup:
“They’re not going to be able to guard Kemba Walker, but the problem is UConn can’t guard Derrick Williams, either,” Bilas said.
“There will be some intriguing matchups in the game. The key will be UConn’s ability to get out in the open. They have to figure out a way to get easy baskets, and I think their big guys have to play a lot better than they played in the regional final against San Diego State.
“Alex Oriakhi got caught flat-footed a lot, not blocking or changing shots, and that is a big part of their defense — shot blocks. I think they have to do a much better job against Arizona because Arizona is hot. I mean, both these teams are hot, but I think Arizona is red-hot right now and really confident.”
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Gerry Ahern, Yahoo! Sports:
ANAHEIM, Calif. – Kemba Walker says Derrick Williams is the best college player in America.
Jim Calhoun rates Williams the second best, behind Walker.
However you rank them, the nation is in for a treat Saturday as two of the most prolific talents in college basketball lead their teams with a berth in the Final Four on the line.
It will be Walker’s Connecticut Huskies (29-9) vs. Williams’ Arizona Wildcats (30-7) in the NCAA West Regional final at Honda Center.
With Brigham Young and Jimmer Fredette eliminated, no two players have captured more headlines or become more ingrained in fans’ memories this March. Both Walker and Williams have put together the types of individual performances that people will talk about decades from now.
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Walker was asked if his old pal from New York City, Arizona sophomore guard MoMo Jones, ever beat him one-on-one.
“Never,” Walker said. “He knows that.”
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Anthony Witrado, Sporting News:
ANAHEIM, CALIF.—In a city known for producing point guards as a natural resource, two of its most recent success stories forged an unbreakable bond along with one of the coaches that helped them to that point.
As teammates at Rice High in Harlem, N.Y., Kemba Walker and Lamont “MoMo” Jones struck a relationship that borders on brotherhood. And they also formed a tight one with Emanuel “Book” Richardson, whom Walker calls a brother and uncle and Jones calls his godfather.
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More Kerr from XTRA 910-AM on the matchup against UConn:
“I think it’s a tougher matchup than Duke was because of the front-line defense that UConn has. Those guys don’t score, but they are long and athletic. They can bother Derrick Williams at the rim and on the perimeter more than Duke’s players could.”
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Jack Magruder, FoxSportsArizona.com:
ANAHEIM, Calif. — Jimmer and Kemba have been no-surname-needed rock stars all season.
Now add “D-Will.”
It has taken Arizona forward Derrick Williams a little longer to get there, but every conversation about the national player of the year now must include Williams, who is as indispensible to his team as guards Jimmer Fredette to BYU and Kemba Walker to UConn.
It is not about Williams’ game.