The sophomore forward’s selection equals the highest ever for a Wildcat.
University of Arizona men's basketball player Derrick Williams was selected in the 2011 NBA Draft, held Thursday at the Prudential Center in Newark, N.J.
Williams, a 6-foot-8, 241-pound sophomore forward from La Mirada, Calif., was the second pick of the first round by the Minnesota Timberwolves.
He led Arizona with per-game averages of 19.5 points and 8.3 rebounds, to go with a .595 (226-of-380) field goal percentage in 38 appearances (all starts). He scored in double figures 37 times, posted 13 double-doubles and posted the two highest single-game rebounding totals in the Pac-10 this season (19 at Washington State on Jan. 22 and 18 at California on Feb. 5).
"I've been working for this moment – to be drafted – for a long time and it's finally come," said Williams via text message. "I had the best time of my life at Arizona and I would not trade that for anything. I love everything about the school. Coach (Sean) Miller and the staff did a great job in preparing me for this next step in my career and I will continue to do my best to make my family and the Arizona fans proud."
Williams' selection as the No. 2 overall selection equals the highest draft slot ever for an Arizona player, equaling Mike Bibby, who was picked second overall in 1998 by the Vancouver Grizzlies. Williams and Bibby join Sean Elliott (No. 3 selection/1989) as the only Wildcats to be top-five selections.
The 2011 Pacific-10 Conference and USBWA District IX Player of the Year, Williams' 741 points scored was the third-highest single-season total in school history, while his 247 free throws and 331 attempts were new single-season school records. Additionally, his .568 three-point field goal percentage (42-of-74) this season ranked second in UA annals, while his 314 rebounds tied for seventh all time.
He was a first-team All-America selection by Sports Illustrated and the John R. Wooden Award, and a second-team pick by the Associated Press, National Association of Basketball Coaches, USBWA, Basketball Times, foxsports.com and the Sporting News.
In two seasons at Arizona, Williams averaged 17.8 points, 7.7 rebounds and 0.8 steals per game in 69 career appearances (68 starts). He connected on 58.6 percent of his field goal attempts (388-of-662) in that span, a figure that ranks fourth on the UA career field goal percentage list.
Williams finished his career with 1,227 career points, which ranks 27th on the UA career scoring list. Williams scored more points in his first two seasons as a Wildcat than any other player in school history. He also is tied for seventh on the Arizona career scoring average list (17.8 ppg), sixth on the career free throws list with 405 and seventh on the career free throw attempts list (563). Furthermore, no player in Arizona history averaged more free throw attempts per game than Williams' average of 8.2 per game.
"We are all proud of Derrick tonight and equally excited for his family," said Arizona head coach Sean Miller. "Derrick is a great teammate, a person of high character and a talented basketball player. The Timberwolves are getting the total package. He will be a special NBA player for a long time.
"As much as I will miss coaching him at Arizona, I will miss his good nature and his consistency as a person, he has no bad days," Miller continued. "Derrick is a winner in every sense of the word and one of the greatest players to ever play at Arizona."
Williams is the 11th Arizona underclassman to enter the draft early and be selected since 1991, joining Brian Williams (1991), Mike Bibby (1998), Gilbert Arenas (2001), Richard Jefferson (2001), Michael Wright (2001), Andre Iguodala (2004), Marcus Williams (2007), Jerryd Bayless (2008), Jordan Hill (2009) and Chase Budinger (2009).
The UA has produced 63 NBA Draft picks since 1948. Williams also is the 17th first-round draft pick in school history and the 11th lottery pick since 1989.