Derrick Williams salutes the student section after his game-saving block against Washington.
Photo by Chris Morrison, US-PRESSWIRE
So, Derrick Williams is gone, off to the NBA. Good for him. He deserves to cash in his lottery ticket.
Tweeted Williams on Wednesday night: I dont think anybody thought i would only be here for 2 years… not even me.. i hope i left y’all with memories that will last forever!
Without Williams’ efforts, Sean Miller would still be rebuilding at Arizona. The Wildcats would have won single-digit games without Williams in 2009-10. There would have been no Pac-10 title and no undefeated home season without him this year.
And probably no NCAA Tournament at all.
Certainly, no thrilling ride to the Elite Eight.
Tweeted Williams: Best two years of my entire life! Couldn’t have ask for anything better!
Now, he has a chance to be a very high pick in the NBA Draft. Perhaps the No. 1 pick if he really wows the scouts in the workouts … and if the team with that No. 1 pick isn’t looking for a point guard.
He shouldn’t have any regrets about his decision.
Yeah, for fans, there is the agonizing “what if?” factor. What if he had stayed for his junior season? Arizona would be a preseason top five team, with as good a chance as any for the national championship.
But, really, there is nothing else to do but thank him for the points, the dunks, the blocks, the first half against Duke, the salutes after a big play, the winning … and then wish him the best in the NBA.
Just as Sean Elliott and Steve Kerr were early recruits that helped make Lute Olson an Arizona legend and ushered in two decades of brilliant basketball … Williams was that player for Miller.
And he’s been such a good kid, level-headed and likable, that he still will be doing Arizona proud as he moves on to the NBA to join nearly a dozen ex-Cats in the league.
Mike Bibby, Jason Terry, Richard Jefferson, Luke Walton are all in their 30s. Gilbert Arenas, who already seems to have lived a lifetime, will be 30 next year.
They are the players with ties to Arizona’s best days — the 1997 national championship and the 2001 title game.
Time for some new blood?
Williams will be the flag-bearer of the new Arizona era, the Sean Miller era.
Not a bad representative at all.
Tweeted Williams: just want to say I LOVE ALL YOU WILDCAT FANS.. especially the ones that were there when i first arrived! YOU ALL MEAN SO MUCH TO ME
More coverage from the TucsonCitizen.com Sports Network:
Steve Rivera: Williams makes the right move
Javier Morales: Is Williams the best player to wear an Arizona uniform?
Brad Allis: What Williams’ departure means
Vote: What is your favorite Derrick Williams moment?