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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

Derrick Williams’ NBA dreams become reality

NEWARK, N.J. — The Minnesota Timberwolves selected former Arizona Wildcats forward Derrick Williams with the No. 2 pick in Thursday’s 2011 NBA Draft. Williams averaged 19.5 points and 8.3 rebounds per game this season.

“”I’m just glad my dreams came true, and I’m happy that this whole franchise chose me number two,”” Williams said. “”I’m just going to keep working and try to be the best player I can possibly be and make the rest of my teammates better.””

The Timberwolves finished with the worst record in the NBA at 17-65.

Williams described his workout with Minnesota as “”really comfortable”” and said Minnesota was a team that he “”fit in with them really well, on and off the court.””

Rumors flew that the Timberwolves might trade their No. 2 pick before Williams’ name was even called, and it is still rumored that Minnesota might use Williams as a bartering chip. There has also been speculation that Minnesota coach Kurt Rambis may not return next season. Despite all the uncertainly surrounding Minnesota and his selection at No. 2, Williams said his focus would be on helping the Timberwolves achieve a winning record next season.

“”I hope they will stick with me,”” Williams said. “”At the end of the day, I did all I can do.

“”I want to be there. I want to make that whole team better, that whole franchise. I want to get them from a losing record to a winning record. That’s my job and that’s why they chose me.””

Williams ties former point guard Mike Bibby as the highest Arizona basketball player to be drafted to the NBA. Bibby was selected as the No. 2 overall pick in the 1998 NBA Draft.

“”Mike Bibby is one of the greatest to ever play and just honored to share that title with him,”” Williams said. “”It’s a great honor to have my name up there with him and just to be in this position.””

Williams joins Bibby and Sean Elliott, who was selected No. 3 overall in the 1989 draft, as the only former Wildcat players to be drafted in the top five.

Williams attended the draft with his mother, sister, niece, agent and business managers. Arizona head coach Sean Miller, who agreed to a contract extension in May, and assistant coach Book Richardson also attended the draft.

“”I’m really excited and proud of Derrick and happy — so happy — for his family,”” Miller said. “”The old saying ‘good things happen to good people’ — it’s so true with Derrick and his family.

“”I think as good of a player as he is, he’s even a better kid and, to me, that will be the big picture for him because Minnesota and their organization and that city, they’re getting someone that they’re really going to love as a person.””

Williams spent two seasons under Miller and averaged 17.8 points and 7.7 rebounds during that time. He led the Wildcats in scoring in 29 of Arizona’s 38 games in the 2011 season. Williams is the highest drafted player that Miller has coached in his eight years as a head coach.

As Williams made his way to the photography room in the Prudential Center, he expressed happiness that he can finally call himself an NBA player.

“”There’s a small percentageof people that actually get this opportunity,”” Williams said, “”and I’m ready to take advantage of it.””

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