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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

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Michael Ignatov
Michael Ignatov / Arizona Daily Wildcat University of Arizona meets UCLA in an NCAA men’s basketball game at McKale Center, Tucson, Ariz., March 4, 2010. UCLA up 39-29 at the half.

It’s either a super sophomore season or a sophomore slump for Arizona forward Derrick Williams, no in-between.

Williams came to Arizona as a three-star recruit, unsure if he would play as a freshman. But in a year, Williams has turned himself into the face of the Arizona

basketball program.

Williams is arguably the best sophomore in the country, coming off a season in which he was a first team All-American. Folks around the Arizona basketball program better get a good glimpse of the 6-foot-8 forward because he probably won’t be around for long. In the meantime, head coach Sean Miller is just glad that he has the potential first-round pick for one more season.

“”I don’t know if any coach feels better about the player sitting next to him than I do about Derrick Williams,”” said Miller at Pacific 10 Conference media day in Los Angeles. “”I really believe he’s poised to take that next step and be one of the best players, not only in the Pac-10, but playing the game.””

Williams spent some of his summer working out back home at the Hangar Athletic Xchange in Hawthorne, Calif., where top basketball players work out.

“”A lot of NBA guys worked out there, I was just seeing what they did,”” Williams said. “”I worked out with James Harden, Shaun Livingston and DeMar DeRozan. It was more just working out, but they told me to get more shots up.””

Williams will not sneak up on teams the way he did a year ago. This season he will be the other team’s first defensive assignment and he’s prepared for it.

“”I worked on that this off-season,”” Williams said of the constant double teams. “”I know Coach is going to throw more double teams at me in practice.””

Williams also spent countless hours working on his jump shot and trying to become more comfortable with his shooting, he said.

“”I worked out Monday through Friday, probably shot 700 shots,”” he said. “”If I’m open, I’m going to shoot it. I think confidence has a lot to do with it. I’m a lot more confident than I was last year.

“”If I can hit the open shot, that’ll be better for our team.””

It will be better for the team and Williams’ draft stock, which he says is not a motivation.

“”I don’t think it motivates me, I motivate myself,”” he said. “”I’ll use the goals that I have.””

Whether he uses the draft hype as an incentive or not, people will discuss it the entire season and NBA scouts will watch Arizona’s big games closely to evaluate Williams.

 

Games scouts will pay close attention to

Kansas: This may be Arizona’s biggest game of the season. The stage is set in Las Vegas for Williams to prove that he’s worthy of a first-round pick. Everyone will be watching on ESPN, and Williams’ performance this Thanksgiving weekend will probably shape people’s opinion of him for the rest of the year.

BYU: The state of Utah is one of the toughest places to play in, regardless of the sport. Going to Provo, Utah, will not be an easy task but great players lead their team in hostile environments. The Cougars are ranked in the preseason and Williams can benefit greatly by leading his team to victory.

Washington: Both games against the Huskies may decide who wins the Pac-10. If the Wildcats win, so does Williams’ draft stock.

UCLA: The Bruins have had a down year as well last season, but 6-foot-8 freshman Reeves Nelson was a positive for their team. Nelson is a quality player who will be a good challenge for Williams. A quality game against Nelson can add to his draft stock.

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