Sky is the Limit
Arizona Wildcat forward Derrick Williams strives for success.
by Stephanie Mejia | @humble_hungry
DeMarcus Cousins, Derrick Favors, Jordan Hamilton and Renardo Sidney were all top small and power forwards in the 2009 high school class. Of these, Cousins and Favor have both moved onto the NBA, leaving Hamilton and Sidney to produce at the college level.
Let’s rewind to 2009, when the name Derrick Williams did not have much of a buzz if any at all. All that was known of him was that he was a hooper from La Mirada. Now as we forward to 2011, allow me to reintroduce you Derrick Williams, the Arizona Wildcat.
Williams initially committed to USC as a part of a solid incoming class that included Solomon Hill and Lamont “Momo” Jones as “the three amigos.” Unfortunately, USC’s coach Tim Floyd resigned that spring and, on top of that, was under investigation by the NCAA due to alleged improper benefits. As a result, the three amigos de-committed and took their talents to Arizona. “I always wanted to go to USC ever since I was younger,” Williams says, “and the last month before I was going to finalize my decision, USC’s basketball program was hit and lost their head coach. Not knowing who was going to be the coach, who was going to be there or leaving, I chose to leave because at the time it was the best decision for me. Along with myself, also came Solomon and Momo. It was big for us to leave USC and head to Arizona. In the end, I’m glad we decided to stay together. We saw an opportunity to be part of the new ear of Arizona basketball. That is how people will remember our class, and that’s what I wanted to be a part of.”
No one can argue that Williams made the wrong decision. He didn’t start his first year at Arizona, but once he developed his confidence and was in the rotation, it was clear that Arizona had a jewel in Williams. He finished the season averaging 15.7 ppg, 7.1 rpg and shooting .681 from the line. As a result, he made 2010 Pac-10 Freshman of the Year, as well as a First-Team All Pac-10 selection to name a few of his accolades.
Now in his sophomore season, he has continued to flourish before our eyes. He has stacked on some weight to his frame and polished up his skill set. Currently, he’s averaging 19 ppg, 8.3 rpg, shooting 60.9 percent from behind the arc and is masterful at getting to the line. With his athleticism, high basketball IQ, defined skills and vicious motor, it’s no surprise that the buzz that once was nonexistent has become the talk of Tucson and face Arizona basketball.
The once-ranked No. 72 prospect in the country is now talked about as a potential top Draft pick. Kanye said, “Never had nothing handed/took nothing for granted/took nothing from no man/man, I’m my own man.” This is the epitome of who Derrick Williams is and what he stands for. Nothing was handed to him. He has worked each day to be where he is today. His work ethic has been a product of his fuel to overlook the naysayers and the doubters and solely focus in one direction: forward, towards success. “Not being highly recruited definitely made me work that much harder,” Williams says. “If I would have been one of the top players in high school, I probably would not have the work ethic I do now. I always wanted to be better and it pushed me harder everyday.” For every successful individual, there is a parent standing behind them to guide them and that’s where Williams’ mother comes into play. “My mother has always been there to push me. She never forced me to play sports. If anything she supports me to be the best at anything I choose to strive for, and she continues to push me to this day.”
Williams has a bright NBA future, but right now that is the least of his concerns. His focus right now is finishing up his sophomore season and leading his teammates to winning the Pac-10 title and conquering the Pac-10 Tournament. “I have a list of goals I set before I arrived at Arizona that I want to accomplish before I leave the school, so right now, that’s my only focus. I am trying to do as much as possible at the college level.”
Tonight is Arizona’s senior night and last home game before the team returns to L.A. for the Pac-10 Tournament. Going into these next games, his mindset is that Arizona is a top team in the nation and nothing less. These next few weeks he will work to check off the goals on his list and will further define the player we have come to know on the court.