Arizona Wildcats: 5 Reasons the Cats Will Be Okay Without Derrick Williams
Derrick Williams is officially leaving for the NBA, and why shouldn't he? He's a guaranteed top five (probably top three) pick and a star in the making.
His two years at the University of Arizona were some of the best two by any Wildcat in their storied history. He is close to being as loved by Wildcat fans (if not on the same level) as names like Mike Bibby, Miles Simon, Steve Kerr and Sean Elliott.
So this team has to take a few steps back next season, right? Maybe a little bit, but don't expect a big drop-off from the Cats. There are plenty of reasons this team will still be competitive and win the Pac-12.
5. Solomon Hill
Solomon Hill is due for a big season next year. He really started to step up late in the season and became that true second scorer.
He is big enough to post up a smaller defender, but also quick enough to take a bigger defender off the dribble. He was also the best passer on the team last year and can rebound very well.
I expect to him to be the Cats' best player next season contributing in a multitude of areas.
4. Incoming Freshman
The Wildcats boast what is, in my opinion, a top-five incoming freshman class. It includes four top-100 prospects, two 5-stars and two 4-stars.
Point guard Josiah Turner and shooting guard Nick Johnson are the two 5-star recruits who will make the backcourt one of the best in the country. Turner is a pass first point, while Johnson is a high-flying two man who is good on both ends of the floor.
Power forward Sidiki Johnson and center Angelo Chol come into solidify the inside. Johnson was hurt most of his senior HS year, but has plenty of skill. Chol is listed at 6'8", but plays much bigger (see his HS record 337 blocks in one season).
They all should see significant minutes next season.
Derrick Williams was the leader of last year's team, and it will hurt to lose that presence. However, there are other guys who can step up and fill that role.
Kyle Fogg will be the quiet leader who shows it on the court rather than with his words. He will be the senior who sees the most action next year, and as a four-year starter he has seen almost everything teams can throw at him and his teammates.
The vocal leader will be junior Lamont "Momo" Jones. He has that swagger about him (growing up in Harlem and playing at Rucker park helped) that gets everyone going. He really started to step up his play on the court as well last season, and should keep it going next year.
2. The Past
I mean two things when I say the past.
First is the feeling of the old Wildcats, under Lute Olson, is back in Mckale Center and Tucson. You always expected those teams to perform well under Lute. The atmosphere is back in Tucson (see the undefeated home record last season), and people are excited that future teams can be like the best teams under Olson.
The second is that the way last season ended (losing in the Elite Eight) should drive this team to get back there or further next season. Most guys of next year's team will know what it's like to get so close to the Final Four and won't want to come up short again.
1. Sean Miller
The best young coach in the country? He has been around for a little a while, but I would love for someone to explain to me how Sean Miller is not one of the top 10 to 15 coaches in the country.
Miller has been working relentlessly ever since taking over as the Wildcats head man. His recruiting habits have to be considered some of the best in the country as he has brought in top-notch players since arriving.
He isn't all that bad at coaching either. No one expected last year's team to win the Pac-10 let alone make it to the Elite Eight, which shows what a marvelous coaching job Miller did.
He got a mid major Xavier team (albeit a top-notch mid major) to the Sweet Sixteen four times, and once to the Elite Eight. With the added amenities at a school like Arizona, he should have a long and successful run.