So that draft workout DID go pretty well. Despite rumors that the Minnesota Timberwolves camp was split between Arizona product Derrick Williams and Turkey's Enes Kanter, it was the former Wildcat who heard NBA Commissioner David Stern call his name at the No. 2 spot in the 2011 NBA Draft.
Nicole Dimtsios of the Arizona Daily Wildcat tweeted the following after talking to Williams in the green room about the possibility of the T'Wolves trading him somewhere else and his goals with the team:
"I want to be there. I want to get them from a losing record to a winning record."
The most remarkable thing from Williams' followers at Arizona — despite the fact that for months now we knew he was a lottery pick — was that just two years ago, he was possibly about to begin his freshman year of college as a redshirt. He came off the bench in his first game as an Arizona Wildcat. Kyryl Natyazhko, no offense, started at the center spot for head coach Sean Miller. What motivated him?
"I think that's what made me work that much higher," Williams told ESPN after he was drafted. "Just use it as motivation. Every time people say I can't do anything ... I like proving them wrong."
The bench warming didn't last. Soon you realized something was special about the guy. In his third collegiate game, he went to the free throw line a school record 21 times. He improved enough to average nearly 20 points per game in his sophomore season, where he got dubbed the nickname of Superman by his teammates after continually making game-saving plays.
He must be changing in the phone booth before the last 10 seconds of the game, Arizona players mused. Now, he's the highest pick out of Arizona since Mike Bibby, who was selected by the Memphis Grizzlies with the No. 2 pick in 1998. It seems so long ago.
Miller was in attendance at the NBA Draft and said this of his former star:
"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."
Now, Williams position with the Timberwolves becomes a thing of interest.
Does he fit well with a similar perimeter-oriented forward in Michael Beasley? Do they trade Beasley? And how nicely does he fit in with Spanish point guard Ricky Rubio, who will join Williams and likely develop a intriguing pick-and-roll combo. Nicole Dimtsios of the Arizona Daily Wildcat Tweeted the following after talking to Williams in the green room:
Williams says he doesn't really care what position he plays.
"I want to play the 3. I know I'll have more mismatches at the 4," he told ESPN after the pick.
Jay Bilas might have said it best. Williams has the most star power in this draft (even over Kyrie Irving) but if anything, he'll be an impact scorer off the bat.