Instant Analysis: Derrick Williams

Instant Analysis: Derrick Williams

Jonah Ballow
Wolves Editor/Writer

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The NCAA Tournament offers must-see theatre every season with buzzer-beaters, upsets, and players transforming into stars right in front of a national audience. Derrick Williams introduced himself to the mainstream group of fans that did not witness his Pac 10 Freshman of the Year campaign at Arizona last year. This season, Williams sparkled by posting 19.5 points, 8.3 rebounds, and one steal per game in 30 minutes of action. The 19-year old was one of the most efficient players in the country, boasting a terrific percentage from the floor at 59.5 and a remarkable 56.8 percent beyond the arc. He is an NBA athletic specimen with a knack for finishing around the rim in spectacular fashion while running the floor with ease. Inside the paint, Williams can take contact from stronger players, maneuver in traffic, and find creases to score against double team situations. What makes Williams an elite NBA prospect is his face-up and deep range abilities, most likely translating to a dangerous offensive weapon at the next level. The 32-point, 13-rebound performance against Duke, pre-draft workouts, and the Draft Lottery order led to Williams placing the Wolves Draft hat on his head on Thursday night.
Pre-Draft 1-on-1 with Derrick Williams
Jonah Ballow: Welcome to, Jonah Ballow here with Derrick Williams., the big man out of Arizona. A ton of attention here, but I want to know what made the biggest jump for you from last year to this year, where your numbers increased?

Derrick Williams: Just working out really. I know a lot of people say that over and over, but just working out in the off-season really does work especially if you're pushing yourself. When you have players that want to get better with you, it's really just pushing yourself and pushing them and I think that's what I did this off-season, and that' why my numbers were so high.

Jonah Ballow: Alright, tell fans out there if they haven't seen a lot of your games, I don't know how they couldn't you were all over the NCAA schedule and TV. Tell us a little bit about your game, what you are hoping to bring to the NBA next season?

Derrick Williams: I'm just a diverse player really; I'm just trying to make mismatches in whatever way possible, whether I play the three or the four. I'm bigger than most threes and I'm quicker than most fours. I spread the floor and just try to make things happen and I think I can at the next level.

Jonah Ballow: You talked about, in your previous interviews, being the underdog and how that fuels you when you play. Talk about that a little bit.

Derrick Williams: Yeah it does fuel me a lot. Whenever people say I can't do things, I just get in the gym and prove it and then the next week I'll have it down. That's what I try and do just try and prove people wrong with whatever I do, whether it be basketball or whatever. I just try to prove people wrong and if they say I can't do this and that then I just prove it so that's all I have to do is let my game show it.

Jonah Ballow: With the No. 2 overall pick in this year's draft, you could be playing here in Minneapolis, what do you think about fitting in with this Timberwolves squad?

Derrick Williams: Yeah, I already know a couple of people on the team, like I said I worked out with Wes [Johnson] and Mike Beasley. If you have us three on the court at the same time it's going to be a floor spreader and we all can take it to the basket, we all can shoot so either way it's going to be great. I think I can make an impact wherever I go.

Jonah Ballow: Do you see that as an advantage? A lot of people talk about how you're the same type of position, same type of player as Beasley and Wes, but you see that as an advantage?

Derrick Williams: Yeah I do, especially with bigger teams that really can't match up with smaller guys that have the size but are just a little bit quicker. I think that really helps in your advantage. I know we would lose a little bit of height but we would make it up with quickness. I think that's what you need at the next level, I think I can add that to this team.

Jonah Ballow: Alright, here's the serious question, I saw in your workout video, the one thing you were trying to cut down on is the sweet tea, have you been successful with that?

Derrick Williams: Yeah I have, I haven't had sweet tea since I've left school.

Jonah Ballow: Is it killing you? [Laughs]

Derrick Williams: Yeah it is killing me, that's my favorite drink but whatever it is I have to do to get my body in shape I'm going to do it. I can wait until the off-season to do that.

Jonah Ballow: What do you anticipate your reaction to be on draft night when your name is called?

Derrick Williams: I couldn't even tell you right now. It's going to be a great feeling though. To see my mom, my sister, and my niece, my agent, my coaches there, everybody who was there to this point to support me through the whole process, it's going to be great. You might see some tears but you never know it's a great time and I'm really looking forward to it.

Jonah Ballow: What's your schedule for the next week? Next Thursday is the June 23 draft so I imagine you're wrapping up your workouts.

Derrick Williams: Yeah, this is going to be my last workout. I'll go home, rest on the weekend, and get back at it throughout the week until I get to New Jersey. Until that draft night I'm going to be working and even after that I'll still be working. I'm here to improve and make an impact for whatever team I go to.

Jonah Ballow: Sounds good, we wish you the best of luck, thank you so much for your time. There's Derrick Williams, big man out of Arizona.

Derrick Williams: Thank you.
Press Release
Minneapolis/St. Paul – The Minnesota Timberwolves tonight selected Derrick Williams with the second overall pick in the 2011 NBA Draft. Johnson, a 6-8 forward from Arizona, averaged 19.5 points and 8.3 rebounds per game for the Wildcats during the 2010-11 season en route to earning Pac-10 Player of the Year honors.

"Derrick is a talented player and a fine young man who had an incredible season for Arizona this past year," said David Kahn, Timberwolves President of Basketball Operations. "His improvement the past few seasons has been tremendous and we believe he has even more room to grow. His athleticism, shooting touch and ability to get to the free-throw line will be valuable assets for our team. We look forward to him joining our young core of promising players."

Williams is coming off a standout sophomore season in which he ranked second in the Pac-10 in both scoring (19.5 ppg) and field-goal percentage (.595), and fourth in rebounding (8.3 rpg). In addition to his Pac-10 Player of the Year Award, Williams was also a first-team All-American pick by Sports Illustrated and a finalist for the Oscar Robertson Trophy and John R. Wooden Award. Williams' 56.8 percent mark from behind the arc also ranked as the second-most prolific three-point shooting season in Arizona history.

Williams was named the Pac-10 Freshman of the Year in 2010 after averaging 15.7 points and 7.1 rebounds per game. He was also named First Team All-Pac-10, becoming one of just 16 freshmen to earn those honors over the last 30 years. For his collegiate career, Williams averaged 17.8 points and 7.7 rebounds while shooting 58.6 percent from the field and 51.1 percent from three in 69 games, and his 1,227 total points is the most ever by a Wildcat in his first two seasons. Williams is also just the fifth player in conference history to earn Freshman of the Year and Player of the Year Awards in consecutive seasons or less, joining Jason Kidd, Shareef Abdur-Rahim, Mike Bibby and Timberwolves All-Star Kevin Love.
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