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Why Brandon Williams shouldn’t return to Arizona

brandon-williams-arizona-wildcats-transfer-professional-knee-injury-miller-analysis-opinion-2020 Photo by Jayne Kamin-Oncea/Getty Images

Brandon Williams entered this offseason as one of Arizona’s biggest questions marks. If he is able to play, it goes, then the Wildcats will be that much better.

It makes sense. As a freshman in 2018-19 Williams was the Wildcats’ best player, averaging more than 11 points and three assists while trying to lead a team that lacked the talent we’re all accustom to seeing in Tucson.

He missed all of last season due to recurring knee troubles, and his absence was notable. Had he been available Arizona would have had another playmaker who could create his own shot, and that’s something the Wildcats desperately could have used.

But Arizona did not have Williams, who was — and still is — working his way back from the surgery to correct a condition known as osteochonditis dissecans. It’s difficult to spell, possibly impossible to pronounce and something that could very well rob Williams of his basketball dreams.

Remember, this was the second time Williams missed a season due to the same surgery—he sat out his junior year of high school ball—and historically speaking, careers for players with chronic knee troubles do not last long.

With all that in mind, if Williams, who said he is not yet 100 percent healthy but will be soon, should never again suit up for the University of Arizona.

If he is healthy enough to return to the court, Williams should go the professional route. Opportunities like this do not come around very often and they are not guaranteed to last.

Alexander Hamilton (by way of Lin-Manuel Miranda in Hamilton) said, “I’m not throwing away my shot,” and those six words very strongly apply to the Arizona guard.

If you’re a B-Will fan, which I imagine everyone who likes Arizona is, then you should have no issue wishing him well as he moves on in his career.

Back in the spring of 2018 Arizona’s brand was fairly toxic. The FBI investigation and ensuing first-round exit in the tournament left many wondering if the Wildcats, especially with Sean Miller as coach, would ever make it back. The recruiting class was in shambles and Williams, who was originally part of it, was now understandably considering Gonzaga and Oregon, too.

A top-40 player in that year’s class, he had some really good options. Yet, he chose to stick with Arizona. That means something, even if his Wildcat career did not go as planned.

It’s not that Williams rejoining the Wildcats would be a bad thing. To the contrary, a healthy Williams would be an incredible addition to next season’s squad. Had he played on any other Arizona team of the last few years I am certain he would have performed even better.

And there is little doubt that he would make an intriguing team such as next year’s quite formidable.

Although we all care very much about the program’s chances for next year, that should not be Williams’ concern at this point. This is a time for the guard to think of himself and his future, nothing more.

Miller created a bit of a story a couple weeks back when he alluded to Arizona possibly adding two more players. As it stands there is only one scholarship available, which would mean someone who is currently occupying one would have to go.

Someone else could decide to transfer, yes, though the easiest dots to connect were those of Williams leaving the program and opening up the second scholarship.

While Williams did not talk about that specifically, he did create some news of his own when discussing the future. While talking about how he will play again next year, added, “It’s just a matter of where at this point. I’m not sure.”

Williams is a confident guy and in the interview said the knee isn’t really a problem now.

“I don’t want to just keep playing every game thinking about my knees, so it’s just something that I just got done and I’m glad to say is behind me,” he said. “Hopefully I won’t think about it ever again.”

Hopefully he doesn’t have to. In a perfect world Williams will not only play again but get back on the path that had him heading for a long career in the game. He deserves at least that.

Even if it’s not the NBA, Williams’ next game should not be in college. The chance to call oneself a professional basketball player is rare, and if Williams is healthy he’ll be able to do exactly that. He’s a good player, and some team would be lucky to have him.

Arizona would be; Arizona was.

And now Williams should move on to the professional career he’s always dreamed of.