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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

Derrick Declares

Mike Christy / Arizona Daily Wildcat

Head coach Sean Miller and the starters for the Arizona Wildcats mens basketball team took questions from the assembled press before Friday, March, 25, 2011, in the Honda Center in Anaheim, Calif. The Wildcats will take on the Connecticut Huskies Saturday for a berth in the Final Four.
Mike Christy
Mike Christy / Arizona Daily Wildcat Head coach Sean Miller and the starters for the Arizona Wildcats men’s basketball team took questions from the assembled press before Friday, March, 25, 2011, in the Honda Center in Anaheim, Calif. The Wildcats will take on the Connecticut Huskies Saturday for a berth in the Final Four.

For all the military-esque salutes Derrick Williams gave after spectacular plays in McKale Center, yesterday it became official that those would mark his final goodbyes to Arizona.

The standout sophomore decided on Wednesday to forego his junior and senior years to enter the NBA Draft with an agent as a projected top-5 pick, despite a looming league

lockout.

“”I have enjoyed my two years at Arizona both on and off the court,”” Williams said in a statement through the school. “”I want to thank my teammates, who are like brothers to me, my coaches and all Wildcat Fans for making my experience an unforgettable one.””

Williams will finish his coursework this semester in Tucson and become one of 14 Wildcats to declare early for the NBA Draft since 1984.

“”Derrick is a special player and rightfully should be considered to be one of the all-time great Wildcats,”” UA head coach Sean Miller said in a statement. “”As good of a player as he is, he is an even better person.””

The consensus among fans on Twitter was that Williams’ move was “”smart, understandable and bittersweet”” since his stock can’t rise much higher than what’s projected: the Pacific 10 Conference Player of the Year could be the top overall pick this summer.

While he won’t be made available to the media until early next week, fans showered Williams — one of the only college basketball players with a verified Twitter account — with congratulations and well wishes through social media.

When asked what he’ll most be remembered for during his two seasons at Arizona, fans noted:

1. Dominating Duke in the Sweet 16. Between his tomahawk dunk over Kyle Singler and 25-point first-half performance, Williams earned national recognition in Arizona’s signature win to cap off a 30-win season.

2. “”The Block”” against Washington. Williams himself said it was one of the best moments of his career in McKale’s raucous “”White Out”” atmosphere on ESPN.

3. More clutch tournament performances: Whether it was his drive against Memphis on the last possessions — he finished an And-1 to keep Arizona from going out in the second round — or his lockdown defense against Texas on the last possession to advance to the Sweet 16, Williams could not have been more clutch when it mattered most this season.

Williams took his time to decide and made a drama-free announcement through the university yesterday afternoon.

The 6-foot-8 sophomore led the Wildcats with 19.5 points and 8.3 rebounds per game last season, with 13 double-doubles.

Solomon Hill said on Twitter: “”I just bought a CAVS, WOLVES, GOLDEN STATE, & WIZARDS Williams 23 jersey. #swagswag!””

Added teammate Kevin Parrom: “”Congrats to the best wildcat to date.. Derrick Williams ! Have fun guarding Boozer … haha Luv Ya Son.””

The Draft is scheduled for June 23 at the Prudential Center in Newark, N.J.

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