If Arizona had Nic Wise, Derrick Williams could have a legitimate shot to win National Player of the Year.
However, Wildcats sophomore forward is forced to do too much himself without a upper-tier point guard and Arizona likely won’t win enough games to give Williams enough pop to outdistance someone like Ohio State’s Jared Sullinger or UConn’s Kemba Walker.
But Williams has been phenomenal thus far for Sean Miller’s team – which has gotten off to an 11-2 start with league play beginning this week with a trip to the Oregon schools.
Miller has scaled back the schedule from the days when Lute Olson was regularly putting together a non-conference slate that rivaled Tom Izzo’s nowadays.
It’s paid off thus far as Arizona has won every game it should, played Kansas tough in Las Vegas and got handled easily in Salt Lake City by Jimmer Fredette and BYU.
Williams was phenomenal against Kansas – with 27 points and eight rebounds. He’s averaging 19.3 points and 7 boards thus far and is shooting an astounding 68 percent from beyond the arc (13-of-19).
``Derrick’s so diverse offensively and that makes him so special,” Miller said. ``He can do it in so many different ways.”
Williams can post up, put it on the floor, get to the line and make free throws and also now step out and make shots from long distance. His offensive game is well ahead of his play on the defensive end of the floor – although, that too, has improved.
But Miller said gave Williams the ultimate complement and he meant it: He’s an even better off the court than on it.
``He’s such a good kid,” Miller said. ``He’s really unselfish and it’s not as if he ever forces the issue. He lets the game come to him.”
Williams has only taken 117 shots – an average of nine field goal attempts per game. That’s only 22 more than Kyle Fogg.
Miller brought Williams off the bench last season to start his college career, but then – after a couple of strong practices - he opted to start him in Maui against Wisconsin.
Williams responded by going to the line an Arizona record 22 times – in just the third game of his career.
``He broke the school record,” Miller said. ``Not by a freshman, but by a player – against a team that never fouls.”