Former Wildcat Derrick Williams on new store, current basketball squad
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 Arizona 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 overall pick.
Tyler Baker / Arizona Daily Wildcat
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 Arizona Daily Wildcat had a chance to speak briefly with Williams about the Wildcats and his store opening.
On other former Arizona players’ awareness of his store:
Williams: 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 going to try and make it here.
Overall it’s tough during the season, but I’ll 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 than 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 going to struggle as a rookie or a freshman. With things like that, it’s how you respond and overcome things like that, and you know as freshmen 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.