With the first pick in the NBA draft the Cleveland Cavaliers select Derrick Williams, forward, Arizona.
Going into Thursday’s game against top-seeded Duke, Williams was in discussion as a top-5 pick in the draft.
Now, he will be the consensus #1 pick.
How can he not be?
Williams torched Duke for a career-high 32 points and grabbed 13 rebounds (6 offensive) and single-handedly kept his team in the game in the first half before the Wildcats took the Blue Devils to school in the second half.
It’s easy to overreact after watching a performance like that but I’ve had a few minutes here to digest this. This kid is the real deal. He can handle the ball, shoots lights out, is a beast on the boards, has a motor that doesn’t stop and a heart like a Lion. He can play power or small forward at the next level. He is versatile enough to do it. Heck he can even play point guard in a pinch, he’s that good!
That Arizona beat Duke really is no surprise. Arizona is a good basketball team. A really good team. They won the Pac-10 regular season championship. But it’s the way that the Wildcats beat the Blue Devils that was simply amazing. The only word that came to mind for me was blitzkrieg.
Duke never knew what hit them in the second half. They had no answers for Williams, MoMo Jones, Solomon Hill, Jesse Perry, Jamelle Horne and Kevin Parrom. They couldn’t keep up with the Arizona fastbreak. They couldn’t contend with the Wildcats on the boards after intermission.
The truth is that you don’t see many Duke teams get blown out of the building like that. But I did see it happen this year, which is why I truly thought Arizona had the ability to pull this off.
No, like every other fool I didn’t pick them. But I certainly spent most of my day on the radio Thursday talking about the fact that Duke is beatable, that Duke has lost numerous times in the Sweet 16 since 2000 and that Arizona was very capable of beating them. Plus, I saw St. John’s clobber Duke 93-78 on January 30th at Madison Square Garden.
Granted Duke played a terrible game that day but having watched that game from start to finish I knew that this Duke team was good but not special. And good teams can be beat.
The question now is how far can Arizona ride this wave. They are sky high right now. They have all the confidence in the world after winning two games by three points and then just blowing out the top-seed. A great player can carry a team through a tournament. And while Williams is a superstar at this level he has a great supporting cast.
I can’t imagine anyone left in the field saying they want Arizona. No way. In a season in which there is no great team, only a bunch of good teams, Arizona certainly is capable of bringing home another national championship to Tucson. They are three wins away.
No matter what happens on Saturday or maybe even next week, this much is certain — unlike some of the players before him, mainly Jerryd Bayless and Marcus Williams, Derrick Williams has cemented his legacy at Arizona. He has a legacy!
Not just because he is the Pac-10 Player of the Year but because he has led this team to the Elite 8.
What did Bayless do at UA — nothing.
What did Marcus Williams do at UA — nothing.
Most fans can remember little if anything about their time in Tucson. Everyone will remember Derrick Williams and this team because they are special. They have accomplished something very special.
And they are not done yet!