June 23, 2011

What being drafted means

After two years of making a name for himself and leading Arizona back to national prominence, combined with another two months of workouts, two-a-days, interviews, photo shoots, appearances, and proving himself, forward Derrick Williams will hear his name called in tonight's NBA draft in New Jersey.

Williams, who stepped onto Arizona's campus in the summer of 2009 as a virtual unknown will now be one of the most known guys of the night, as he'll likely be drafted in one of the top five spots. Williams being drafted tonight has an affect on more parties than people think.

While it obviously affects Williams' family, his whole life is about to change, but this draft affects the University of Arizona and head coach Sean Miller. If in fact Williams is drafted with the first pick, he will be the highest pick in university history. Wherever Williams is taken in the lottery it's a credit to Coach Miller's ability to develop players and turn the into elite NBA prospects. Not a bad way to start off the list of draftees for the new era of Sean Miller. It says a lot about the program and the way the players get developed on a yearly basis. And the scary part is this is only the beginning, there's no way to go but up.

Williams came in as a virtual unknown, he was left off the top 150 recruiting list and most people following the program thought he would be a decent four-year player at best. Now, Miller can use this as a pitching point to recruits for the future. Jerry Meyer, Rivals.com recruiting expert weighed in on what this all means for the state of Arizona basketball.

"The success of Derrick Williams is huge because it's a great selling point for the Arizona program's ability to develop players and get them to the next level", Meyer said.

As of now, only current Miami Heat point guard Mike Bibby has gone higher than any other Arizona player when he was drafted second overall back in 1998.
Ironically, Bibby was drafted before there was a lockout during the 1998-99 season and Williams could potentially be facing the same outcome if the current labor situation isn't resolved in time.

It also affects guys that aren't your typical five-star recruits. There's an old saying that takes place when recruits step on campus and join a team. "Numbers go out the window, everyone starts fresh". Williams proved that by putting on a show in Tucson for two years and he did it with class, consistency, humility, and hard work, and now he will reap the benefits of being a likely top two pick in tonight's draft.

"Three years ago I would have never expected to be in this situation," Williams said. "It's just a blessing, honestly. To just be considered a top pick whether it'd be 1, 2, 3 or whatever it is... It's just honestly a blessing."

Williams has been working relentlessly and it will show Thursday night when he hears his name called and winds up being one of the first players selected to shake Commissioner David Stern's hand on the big stage.

"You might see a couple of tears because I've been working so hard," Williams said. "But overall, it's been a wonderful experience. I'll have all my cameras out there so I can take a lot of pictures."

While there has been criticism from the most regular, average people that don't know a thing about sports and what athletes endure, to ESPN's out-spoken anchor Skip Bayless, who blasted Williams publicly on the ESPN show "1st and 10" saying he's a "classic tweener". Here's the bottom line; Williams game will translate into the NBA, if it didn't than he wouldn't have a shot at being drafted, let alone being predicted to be one of the top two players taken in tonight's draft. Wherever he winds up, Williams will make an impact and represent the University of Arizona with class and have an outstanding professional career… and the first step of his journey starts tonight in the NBA Draft.

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