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What Brandon Williams’ commitment means for Arizona

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The 2018-19 season sure has a different outlook now

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Photo via @TheeBWill

You’ve heard the news: Brandon Williams has committed to the Arizona Wildcats, who were able to hold off the Oregon Ducks and Gonzaga Bulldogs.

The four-star point guard is the third member of UA’s 2018 recruiting class, which now ranks 21st in the country, according to 247Sports.

Our commitment story can be found here, and here’s what Williams’ pledge means for Arizona:

Back in Pac-12 title contention

Had Williams chosen Oregon, Arizona’s Pac-12 title aspirations would have been over.

A lineup of Williams, Payton Pritchard, Louis King, Bol Bol, and Kenny Wooten would have been the most talented in the conference, and Dana Altman is the type of coach that would have maximized that group.

But take Williams out of Oregon’s lineup and put him in Arizona’s, and it shifts the power balance of the conference, possibly significantly when you consider UA hardly had a fallback plan if Williams went elsewhere.

Now, with Justin Coleman and Williams in the fold, Arizona may have the lead guards it needs to run with anyone, along with a formidable supporting cast around them.

The Wildcats have a nice blend of youth and experience, giving them a high ceiling and high floor. At this point, it would be surprising if they win fewer than 10 conference games, especially when you consider the overall weakness of the Pac-12.

Not too long ago there were people out here predicting Arizona to win three games.

Positive press

Arizona’s image received a boost by landing Williams. For one, he is the highest ranked recruit the UA has landed since the FBI investigation.

And just like when Devonaire Doutrive committed, Williams’ pledge signals to other recruits that “hey, it is OK to play at Arizona.”

And, frankly, not landing Williams would have been disastrous.

No matter how you spin it, losing a player who once called Arizona “his dream school” to a conference rival like Oregon or a fellow regional power like Gonzaga would have been a huge hit to UA’s reputation.

If he wasn’t willing to head to Arizona, how could we have blamed others for skipping out?

Recruiting momentum?

Good players want to play with other good players. That’s no secret.

So now that Williams is a Wildcat, it’s easy to wonder how that might affect Jordan Brown’s recruitment. The five-star forward is down to Arizona, Cal, and Nevada.

Not only is Brown a stellar talent — he is a McDonald’s All-American and the top remaining player on the market — but he would fill Arizona’s last glaring need, which is frontcourt depth/talent.

A foursome of Brown, Ira Lee, Chase Jeter, and Ryan Luther could be potent, as they each bring a unique skill-set to the table.

Nevada appears to be the leader for Brown — he unofficially visited UNR for the third time this weekend — but it will be interesting to see if Williams’ commitment changes the calculus of Brown’s decision at all.

Nevada is coming off a Sweet Sixteen appearance, but Arizona has the most talent among the three schools he is considering. And if winning is Brown’s priority, Arizona is certainly a more enticing landing spot than it was before Williams’ decision.

My projected starting lineup

PG: Justin Coleman/Alex Barcello

SG: Brandon Williams/Brandon Randolph/Devonaire Doutrive

SF: Emmanuel Akot/Dylan Smith/Omar Thielemans

PF: Ryan Luther/Ira Lee

C: Chase Jeter

This is my early starting lineup, though it is important to note that Williams and Coleman are interchangeable here. Both will handle the ball plenty.

And I think the wild card is Randolph, who can make a big leap this offseason and force his way into the starting five. Same goes for Lee.

What would your starting lineup be?


Follow Ryan Kelapire on Twitter at @RKelapire or help support his work via Venmo.