Former UA basketball star Derrick Williams visits Tucson
Former Arizona forward Derrick Williams poses with a fan at the recently-opened VII Grand, a shoe and apparel store that Williams co-owns in downtown Tucson. Tyler Baker / Arizona Daily Wildcat
The No. 11 Arizona Wildcats have the talent to make a run in the NCAA tournament.
Derrick Williams knows a little bit about that.
The former Wildcats forward carried the UA to the Elite Eight in 2011, and used his March Madness performance as a launching point for his NBA career.
In the 2011 NBA Draft, the Minnesota Timberwolves selected him with the second pick.
On Monday, Williams returned to Tucson to promote a store he co-owns in downtown Tucson, called VII Grand Premium Streetwear and Sneakers, which opened on Feb. 15.
Williams brought a few T-Wolves teammates with him—Ricky Rubio, J.J. Barea and Greg Stiemsma — to sign autographs and take pictures with fans.
Solomon Hill, Kevin Parrom, Jordin Mayes and Max Wiepking — members of this year’s squad and Williams’ teammates in the Elite Eight run — were in attendance too.
The Daily Wildcat had a chance to speak briefly with Williams about the Wildcats and his store opening.
On opening a store in Tucson:
“I’ve always wanted to open up a store. It really hits home, especially coming back to Tucson where fans really took me in and I love it out here. The fans are always great, even when I did leave they’ve always been great. It was a great turnout today.”
On the awareness of other former Arizona players about the store:
“It’s tough for all the guys to come back, especially during the NBA season. It just happened to be a day off and I just decided to come down here and enjoy Tucson. A few guys like Luke Walton and those guys, they know I have a store so when they come down they’re gonna try and make it here. Overall its tough during the season, but ill be back here in the offseason and hopefully the other guys will be too.”
On this year’s Arizona squad:
“They’re good. I feel like they can make a run in the tournament like we did when I was here. They have the talent. I would say they have more talent then we had when I was a sophomore. “
“They have good freshmen, good leadership in Solomon and Kevin and those guys and a balanced offense and defense. If their big men stay out of foul trouble and the guards play like they’re supposed to play they can make a big run.”
On how hard it is to be a freshman at a major college basketball program:
“It’s tough. I really felt like I was doing that last year when I was with the T-Wolves. You’re gonna struggle as a rookie or a freshmen. With things like that, it’s how you respond and overcome things like that and you know as a freshman we all struggle it wasn’t just myself, Momo [former UA guard Lamont Jones], Kev, Solo all those guys, then we came back ready to attack and that’s what we did.”