The expectations for Derrick Williams coming into this season are high and rightfully so. Arizona head coach Sean Miller is one of many that feel Williams is poised for a huge season.
"Derrick, first off, combined his off-season by being here in Tucson and doing a great job in school," Miller said. "Physically working hard and working on his game. He also went to some other places where he competed against players of his caliber, players in other programs who've had great seasons and I really think the combination of both of those things has him in a really good place to start off his sophomore year.
"Because one thing you realize about Derrick, he hasn't been a top-20 player since he's been in sixth grade. You can make the argument that out of the five freshmen we had a year ago, he was the least heralded of the five."
While Williams is already far along offensively, Miller feels that the bigger challenge will be getting Williams to step up on defense.
"I think what he's really figured out is that he is a good player and that he can dominate games, and that he has a chance to be a great one," Miller said. "Defensively is his biggest challenge. Like you would expect, freshman being his height, what we asked him to do a year ago, there were times on defense where he'd probably be the first to tell you he didn't feel right.
"Playing against those big centers at times and playing against those different teams, so him being a more consistent, better defender, better rebounder, in addition to what he already does well is going to make the team a lot better. I really believe that he'll do that."
Although Arizona has added a big body or two, there will not be much change as to how Williams will be used.
"Let's just call it like it is," Miller said. "Very few college basketball teams play with what you call a true center. With somebody who has incredible height and scores close to the basket, period. If you really think about that, how many teams in today's game have that? It's forward driven, it's forward heavy.
"Derrick's not a five, he's a four and that's how we used him on offense last year. The challenge was on defense, where he was forced to guard players that were much heavier, much bigger than him. So how we use him on offense, I don't think I'd be a very good coach if I changed that a whole lot because of how much success he had, but getting in the game with Kyryl (Natyazhko) or Alex (Jacobson), and having a chance to get a lot more out of a bigger player, we can do that, and that will have more to do with their improvement than his."
Expectations high for Williams
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