For the first time since Arizona lost to the eventual NCAA champion Connecticut in the Elite 8, head coach Sean Miller addressed the media on a bevy of different topics. Being so close to a Final Four and a National Championship is still on his mind, along with Wildcat fans alike, but other questions have started to arise and may quickly be answered.
Perhaps the biggest question is related to the future of Derrick Williams. Williams had an outstanding year as he was named the Pac-10 Player of the Year, was a second team All-American and may very well be a top five pick in the upcoming NBA draft.
In years past, jumping to the NBA would be a simple choice for a player like Williams, but with a looming lock out at the next level, it has caused many players to re-think their decisions. Miller says he will not play the role of devil's advocate for him returning to Arizona but will give him all of the information needed.
"Derrick's moving through it like I've anticipated him doing," said Miller. "He's really relying on one of his coaches who is almost like a big brother to him. He has his mom, his sister, and he's listening to us.
"My role isn't to convince him to come back to Arizona, as much as it is to make sure we can provide them with all the information that they deserve. This year is unique because of the lockout, and there's not one person who can predict anything other than that there is a really good chance that there is going to be one."
Miller says that the decision that Williams will ultimately make will be based upon the fact that he is a great kid and not about being the number one pick in the draft, so Miller will be happy no matter what.
"With Derrick, I think it's not about that," explained Miller. "It's more about giving him the space and time. He's, thank god, not a guy that can't wait to leave Tucson. He loves college, he loves the fans, and he really enjoys playing as a part of our program.
"For that, to his credit, he's trying to make the best decision for him, and I would anticipate that that decision will be more toward the deadline of April 24 than it would be two days from now."
Whether or not Williams returns for his junior year adds to another major aspect of the offseason, which has to do with a scholarship crunch that Arizona will have to face for the next two seasons. The program will be down to 12 and will have to figure out who will not be getting a scholarship next season.
The truth is, as of now, Arizona is about three scholarships over the limit without any decisions on anyone's future being made publicly. It has been said that the situation will work itself out and Miller had more to say Thursday.
"I'm very confident, that first of all, making decisions for the best interest of our program, that's my job," said Miller. "Building our program is part of it, but the other part is making sure the players, the student athletes, that are a part of our team can reach their goals. Everybody wants to play, everybody wants to play more.
"Sometimes it's hard to be honest, but sometimes it's the right thing. If they can leave here, to go somewhere else, to reach their goals, I think, at the end, maybe not right away, it will both help our program, but it will also really help them. We're still, obviously, working through Derrick's situation, and we have to get to that point before we really know what our team will look like next year."
There are a lot of guards on the roster, with two more coming in next year, so some hard decisions are going to have to be made.
Roster spots will be discussed with the entire staff, which is one short with the recent departure of Archie Miller, who was introduced as Dayton's new head coach on April 3. Older brother Sean had to deal with losing a great coach and his brother, but is proud that he accompanied him to Tucson two years ago.
"Looking back, I really appreciated Arch coming here in the first place, because he didn't really take a step up," Miller said. "When you're at Ohio State, and when you're doing what he was doing, with what their program is, it's equal footing, and with him already being there didn't mean that he had to leave Ohio State.
"He did it because he wanted to help the cause, and obviously he respected Arizona a great deal. We appreciate his efforts, and he'll be missed. In a short period of time, hopefully we'll have someone who does the job very similar to him."
Getting a replacement for Archie will not be easy as he had a great relationship with the players as well as the community, but Miller has an idea of what kind of coach he is ready to hire and replace his brother.
"Getting this right is way more important than anything else, because this person is going to impact our program for years to come in many ways," explained Miller. "Their experience, whether they're coming from the NBA, or a head coach in college, an assistant coach in college, is crucial. I think the one thing we are really settled on is making sure that they have the ability to have relationships in the west."
Arizona fans are happy to be in the situation to trust what decisions Miller will make because he has led this program to places further than anyone had imagined would happen this quickly. Reality is, Arizona was a three-pointer away from being in the Final Four but it fell just short.
Now that fans, the university, and future players alike know that Miller is capable of taking his team far in the postseason, the expectations of old are starting to settle back down in Tucson. Miller is currently happy with where the program is, but is not satisfied.
"Seasons like we had this year, to me, are season we're trying to have in our future," said Miller. "You can't always control what happens in the tournament. You run into the last-second shot, a bad play, good play, you look at so many of the number one seeds this year.
"They've had unbelievable seasons, and they get knocked out. Hopefully we can put ourselves in that kind of position in the future."
Miller ready for next step
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