Derrick Williams has declared for the 2011 NBA Draft and has plans to sign with an agent despite the growing talk about a lockout happening next season in the pros. It is hard for a player who is projected to be a top three pick in the draft to turn down that type of money regardless of what is happening with labor talks.
With Williams taking his talents to the NBA, it leaves fans of the Arizona program wondering how the Wildcats will replace perhaps one of the best players in their history and how they will also replace his scoring.
It is not easy to replace 20 points and 8 rebounds per game, but Sean Miller and his staff have done a good job putting the team in a place to succeed no matter what.
At this point, it is tough to say that next season's team will be able to make a run at the Final Four but there definitely will be enough pieces in place to defend its Pac-10 Championship.
As much as many people do not want to admit, the success of the team this previous season was not solely based on the play of Williams even though his efficiency was unmatched throughout the season and he was the catalyst for the team.
Instead, there were games where Williams did not play his best and it was other players that needed to step up, which they did. The essence of team will have to be on display next season as players will have to grow and play hard each game.
The strength of next year's team will be out on the perimeter as the guards and wings will have the talent enough to make good things happen on the court. Solomon Hill and Kevin Parrom each bring much needed aspects to the small forward position and both see their games evolving each season.
Hill is the player you really look at to up his production as a starter and possibly score close to 15 points per game in his junior season after scoring 8.0 this past season. Like Hill, Parrom should also see a spike in scoring, but both have room ti improve.
Arizona's starting backcourt will return as Lamont "Momo" Jones and Kyle Fogg both had moments of stardom this year. Jones delivered some up and down moments as he had to play the point for the first time.
He is a natural combo guard that can score the ball pretty well and with a true point guard coming in next year, Jones will be able to look for his shot more, which will help make up for the 19.5 left by Williams.
As far as Fogg goes, he shot 41 percent in 2009 from three-point range but dropped down to 35 percent this season. Fogg will need to shoot the ball better and continue to be a defensive leader on the team.
Jordin Mayes had a good freshman year campaign much to the surprise of most people and he was third in the conference in three-point shooting percentage and made some progress as far as learning how to run a team.
You have to also look at Brendon Lavender and Daniel Bejarano, who both have to figure out how to get more minutes and be productive while playing. With two more guards coming in, it will be difficult for both of these players to find legitimate playing time.
A shining light next season for Arizona is the stellar recruiting class that Miller and his staff put together in 2011. Josiah Turner, Nick Johnson, Sidiki Johnson and Angelo Chol all are expected to make immediate impacts.
Turner and Nick Johnson will add to the backcourt as Turner is the pure point that will go perfectly in Miller's system along with Johnson, who all fans are excited to see in a Wildcat uniform. Playing two seasons at Findlay Prep in Henderson (Nev.), Johnson is already accustomed to the level of play he will see in college and will be ready to go.
The other two parts of the incoming class will add to the front court, which loses Williams, but does still have some potential. Jesse Perry is a returning starter and you saw what is possible from him in the tournament against both Duke and Connecticut.
To go along with Perry will be Kyryl Natyazhko, who continues to show progress and will be asked to do more next season. In addition, Alex Jacobson's future is still in question as he does have another year of eligibility and with the opportunity to add to the depth in the front court, the opportunity to stay may be there.
With Sidiki Johnson and Chol you will get toughness and some great intangibles. Johnson is great on the boards, while Chol will be the best shot blocker on the roster as a freshman. Both are still somewhat raw offensively, but still should be able to contribute.
As fans say goodbye to Williams, they must also like the direction that the program is going, as the future remains bright. Another great coaching job will be in order for next season as the Wildcats will have to find where their points will come from, but there is plenty of talent that can get it done.
With Williams gone, what's next?
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