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Ex-Cat Derrick Williams helps start retail venture in downtown Tucson

Derrick Williams

Derrick Williams tries to dribble part Houston’s James Harden (13) and Greg Smith. Photo by Greg Smith-USA TODAY Sports

Former Arizona Wildcat Derrick Williams is branching out into Tucson business.

Former Tucson Citizen reporter Teya Vitu, writing for DowntownTucson.org, has the story about Williams being the co-founder of VII Grand, described as a “sneaker and streetwear clothing and accessories shop.”

Williams is in his second season with the Minnesota Timberwolves.

Here is the start of the story:

When your buddy is a rising NBA star, that dream from your distant teen years of opening a sneaker shop can all of a sudden come true.

Last summer, Tucson native Mario Escalante was pondering opening a sneaker and streetwear clothing and accessories shop. He bounced the idea off Minnesota Timberwolves forward Derrick Williams, and the former University of Arizona basketball standout took an active interest.

“He started picking my brain about it, asking me questions: ‘What do you want to do? Shoes? Clothes? Or what? If this is something you want to do, let’s do something, let’s do it together,’” Escalante recalled. “He just said ‘Go find a location that would be best for us. Get the ball in motion for us.’”

The result is VII Grand, 178 E. Broadway in the 1917 Julian Drew Building, opening on Feb. 15. The initial hours will be noon to 7 p.m. Monday to Saturday. Williams plans to be at the store’s grand opening on Feb. 25. He will be able to fit an appearance into his schedule because the Timberwolves play the Phoenix Suns the next day.

Continue reading at DowntownTucson.org…

Williams, the No. 2 pick in the 2012 NBA Draft, has mostly struggled to find his niche on the Timberwolves this season, and the 6-8 forward was the subject of trade rumors for a while. But when Timberwolves star post player Kevin Love suffered a broken hand early this month — an injury that is expected to keep him out 8 to 10 weeks — the quantity and quality of Williams’ play improved.

He is averaging 11.0 points and 5.7 rebounds in the past 10 games, playing 27.3 minutes per game. In December, Williams averaged 6.7 points and 2.9 rebounds in 13.2 minutes per game.

Other former Arizona basketball players have tried to make the jump into local business, including Bison Dele (then known as Brian Williams), who was a co-partner in a local restaurant called Yo Mama’s Chili, and Jason Terry, who was partners in a group that brought the chain Which Wich Superior Sandwiches to its current spot on Main Gate Square on the UA campus.

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