It’s less than two months away from the Red-Blue Game and Arizona men’s basketball is already off to a rough start to what is supposed to be a bounce-back year. Sophomore guard Brandon Williams will miss the entire 2019-20 season after undergoing knee surgery recently, as first reported by Jeff Goodman of WatchStadium and later confirmed by the University of Arizona.
“A year ago, Brandon quickly became one of our team’s best players and one of the Pac-12’s most exciting freshmen,” Head Coach Sean Miller said in a statement Wednesday. “The news of Brandon’s season-ending surgery is beyond disheartening.”
Williams has had a history with knee problems as he missed six games with the Wildcats last year due to knee swelling that stemmed from a previous injury in high school. The congenital injury, known as osteochondritis dissecans, caused him to have knee surgery in 2017 and miss his senior year.
“I’ve overcome obstacles before in my life, and will work with our strength and medical staffs to overcome this one,” Williams said in the statement. “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.”
In 2018-19, the 6-foot-2 guard averaged 11.4 points and 3.4 assists per game, en route to being named Pac-12 All-Freshman Team Honorable Mention.
Williams, a top 40 recruit in 2018, was expected to start alongside incoming five-star recruit Nico Mannion in the Arizona backcourt, but now the Wildcats will look elsewhere for production. Depth becomes an immediate concern considering the recent departure of guard Alex Barcello to BYU and former commit Terry Armstrong, opting to play overseas in Australia's National Basketball League (NBL).
Redshirt senior Dylan Smith and grad-transfer Max Hazzard will likely now battle for the starting spot in place of Williams with sophomore Devonaire Doutrive picking up minutes off the bench.
The Wildcats have been regarded as one of the early favorites to win the Pac-12 this season, and the injury to Williams certainly puts a dent in those chances. Luckily for Miller and Arizona, the season is still three months away so the Wildcats have some time to address Williams’ absence.
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