This year’s freshman class at Arizona is kind of like the cast of “Bring it On 3” — they (Hayden Panettiere, Solange Knowles) don’t remotely resemble the original (Gabrielle Union, Kirsten Dunst), and maybe they’re not quite as hot, but still, they’re not half bad.
Once he left Xavier and took over for the Lute Olson/Kevin O’Neill combo, Coach Sean Miller put the whole recruiting class together in, like, 11 minutes after several crushing decommitments (including Abdul Gaddy, thank you) left him scrambling. Despite the group being thrown together as quickly as the Michael Jackson commemorative sparkling glove set, all five recruits were ranked in the top 25 at their position, and suddenly the ‘Cats look like a team that will be able to scratch their way up the Pac-10 standings within a couple of years.
Derrick Williams is one of the members of Miller’s Easy-Bake Oven recruiting class, having decommitted from the only school that went through more flux this off-season than Arizona: USC. I caught up with the 6’8″ forward from La Mirada, California, this week and we discussed his change of heart and a lot more.
Montlake Madness: So, tell us a little bit about Derrick Williams. Who’s the player your game most resembles?
Derrick Williams: I would say I play like Sam Young from Pitt last year. I can shoot it, dribble, post up — a little bit of everything.
MM: So, Arizona brings in one of the youngest teams in the Pac-10, but every freshman is ranked pretty high for their position. What do you think would qualify as a “good season” for the Wildcats this year?
DW: Yeah, we are real young this year, but I think that making the tournament for the 26th year in a row would be great for this year’s team.
MM: What made you choose Arizona?
DW: The opportunity to play as a freshman, and just the class that we brought in this year. I know in the next couple years we will be doing damage.
MM: Tell me about Coach Miller. What do you expect he’ll do differently from Coach O’Neill and before him, Coach Olson?
DW: I think he will bring a faster pace offensively, and just more intensity on both defense and offense – a more open style of play.
MM: So, you decommitted from USC. Tell me what led to that decision.
DW: I just didn’t feel comfortable being there anymore. Even though it was my dream school to go to since i was little, the situation just didn’t feel right.
MM: Was it Coach Floyd leaving that clinched it? Or the suspicion of potential recruiting violations at USC?
DW: I would say a little of everything. The potential violations was what capped it off.
MM: So, are you on campus now, or still at home?
DW: Yeah, I’m at campus now. We started school already.
MM: Have you been working out with teammates? As a Husky fan, Nic Wise scares me. He can really fill it up.
DW: Yeah, we’ve been working out. Nic, yeah he is real good. Seeing him on TV, and then in real life, is a lot different. He is way faster in real life.
MM: Which guy has impressed you the most in practice?
DW: i would have to say (Wildcat shooting guard) Kyle Fogg.
MM: How so?
DW: I saw him play in high school, and seeing him now, he got a lot better. Overall, he just improved a lot.
MM: What’s something a fan wouldn’t know about life as a highly sought-after recruit? I mean, that can’t be the same life as an average HS senior.
DW: Yeah, it’s real hard just finding out who is telling the truth. Because, really you’re constantly getting lied to and just have to find out who is trustworthy.
MM: Can you give me an example of being lied to? You can leave out names if you prefer.
DW: Just like promising you starting positions. Just stuff that you shouldn’t guarantee players.
MM: Is that fairly common, coaches guaranteeing starting spots to recruits?
DW: Yeah, well most of them.
MM: That’s crazy. Not cool to do that. Last question for you: I’m not sure how well you know the team, but give me a short scouting report on the Washington Huskies from your perspective.
DW: Umm… Really talented and really good 3’s and 4’s along with a couple of good point guards.
MM: Anything else you want to say?
DW: That the Wildcats are taking the Pac-10 title.
MM: Alright. Best of luck with that…
And, hey, thanks for coming!