Arizona Wildcats sophomore guard Brandon Williams will miss the 2019-20 season after undergoing knee surgery. It was first reported by Stadium’s Jeff Goodman and later confirmed by the UA.
“I want to thank my family, fans and the Arizona Basketball program for their continued support,” Williams said in a statement. “I’ve overcome obstacles before in my life and will work with our strength and medical staffs to overcome this one. I’m dedicated to continuing my work in the classroom as a student, and I look forward to supporting my teammates and coaches as I spend this season focusing on my health.”
Williams missed his entire junior season of high school after having knee surgery to correct a congenital knee condition called osteochondritis dissecans, in which bone underneath the cartilage of a joint dies due to lack of blood flow.
That same knee flared up a few times during his freshman season at Arizona, causing him to miss six games and be limited for several others.
In all, Williams appeared in 26 games (21 starts), averaging 11.4 points and 3.4 assists per contest, while shooting 38 percent from the field, 32 percent from 3, and 82 percent from the free-throw line.
Williams was expected to start alongside incoming freshman Nico Mannion in what figured to be a potent backcourt tandem, as well as serve as the backup point guard when Mannion rests.
Instead, Williams’ absence leaves Mannion as the only lead guard on the roster. UC Irvine transfer Max Hazzard primarily played the 2 at his last school, posting 188 assists and 137 turnovers.
Dylan Smith played some point guard in his lone season at UNC Asheville in 2015-16, but he finished with more turnovers than assists. That trend has continued at Arizona where he has committed 84 turnovers to 71 assists.
Five-star wing Josh Green and former Cornell forward Stone Gettings, who averaged nearly three assists per game as a junior and is said to be a good passer from the high post, are other playmaking options.
With Williams out, Arizona is down to 10 scholarship players for 2019-20. Jordan Brown and Jemarl Baker Jr. have to sit out due to NCAA transfer rules.
Ranked as the No. 34 player in the 2018 recruiting class, Williams was a high four-star recruit coming out of Crespi Carmelite High School in Encino, California. The Los Angeles native committed to Arizona in June 2017 then decommitted in March 2018 after the ESPN wiretap report.
Two months later, he re-upped with the Wildcats, turning down Gonzaga and Oregon.
“Brandon is one of the most talented guards we have recruited during my tenure as head coach at Arizona,” UA coach Sean Miller said. “A year ago, Brandon quickly became one of our team’s best players and one of the Pac-12’s most exciting freshmen. The news of Brandon’s season-ending surgery is beyond disheartening. All of us that comprise Brandon’s Arizona Basketball family, as well as our own loyal and passionate fan base, will rally around him and support him as he begins his journey to recovery.”