TUCSON, Ariz.- University of Arizona men's basketball player Derrick Williams has decided to make himself eligible for the 2011 NBA Draft. Williams intends to sign with an agent and will not return to the program in 2011-12.
A 6-foot-8, 241-pound sophomore forward from La Mirada, Calif., Williams 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).
"After careful consideration and with the support of my family and Coach Miller, I have decided to declare for the 2011 NBA Draft," said Williams. "I have enjoyed my two years at Arizona both on and off the court. 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."
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.
Williams intends to complete his coursework this semester here in Tucson. "I will finish this semester at the U of A in good academic standing and plan on continuing to pursue my college degree in the future," he said. "I am a Wildcat for life."
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.
"Today is a great day for Derrick Williams and for Arizona Basketball," said head coach Sean Miller. "Derrick is a special player and rightfully should be considered to be one of the all-time great Wildcats. As good of a player as he is, he is an even better person."
He is one of 14 Wildcats to declare early for the NBA Draft since 1984: Brian Williams (1991), Mike Bibby (1998), Gilbert Arenas (2001), Jason Gardner (2001), Richard Jefferson (2001), Michael Wright (2001), Andre Iguodala (2004), Chris Rodgers (2005), Mustafa Shakur (2006), Marcus Williams (2007), Jerryd Bayless (2008), Chase Budinger (2008 and 2009) and Jordan Hill (2009). Of that list, only Gardner, Rodgers and Shakur returned to school and completed their eligibility.
"We are all excited to follow his journey to the NBA, and I have no doubt he will be very successful as an NBA player," said Miller. "We wish him all the best and know that he will be a part of our basketball family forever."
The 2011 NBA Draft is scheduled for Thursday, June 23, at the Prudential Center in Newark, N.J.
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