NBA draft combine: Williams opts out of skills workouts

Departing Wildcat sets goal of winning Rookie of the Year
2011-05-20T00:00:00Z 2012-11-30T13:49:39Z NBA draft combine: Williams opts out of skills workoutsBy Bruce Pascoe Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star
May 20, 2011 12:00 am  • 

CHICAGO - For many pro basketball prospects, this week's NBA draft combine is a nonstop, nerve-wracking shuttle between gymnasium floors and interview rooms, with jobs, pride and millions of dollars at stake.

Yet there was departing Arizona Wildcats forward Derrick Williams sprawled out in the lounge of the Westin Michigan Avenue hotel Thursday afternoon, casually flipping through his smartphone in between team interviews, with no sign of concern or anxiety on his face.

"It's all right," he said with a smile.

As Arizona fans know, it is Williams' nature to chill off the floor. But the other major reason for his attitude Thursday is that he is considered one of the top two - or at least top five - picks in the June 23 draft.

Williams' stature prompted him to pull out of the skills workouts Thursday, although Williams is scheduled to undergo agility drills and measurements today.

So most of Williams' "work" on Thursday was spent convincing media and teams alike that he is worthy of a very high draft pick.

Maybe even the No. 1 pick. Williams said he is the best player in the draft, is the most NBA-ready, and aims to be the NBA's Rookie of the Year next season.

"That's the plan," he said. "That's the first step. I'm not cocky or anything but that's the main focus right now - rookie of the year."

In addition, Williams called himself a small forward, and defined his size as "6-8 or 6-9 and 245." He was listed at 6-8, 240 at the UA while playing center and power forward.

And, when asked why he didn't participate in skills testing, Williams temporarily became defensive in his 20-minute media interview.

"What do you want me to prove?" Williams said. "I did that during the season. I was the most efficient player in the nation and averaged 19 (points) and 8 (rebounds), shot 56 percent from three. There was really nothing else to prove."

Williams wasn't alone. Duke's Kyrie Irving, Kentucky's Brandon Knight, Connecticut's Kemba Walker and Texas' Tristan Thompson all missed portions of the workouts, and Irving was expected to do virtually nothing except interviews.

"You'll probably see me walking through the hotel," said Irving, who did exactly that for much of the afternoon.

Things were different for power forward Enes Kanter, who was unable to play for Kentucky last season because the NCAA ruled he had accepted impermissible benefits while playing for a club in his native Turkey two years ago.

Kanter, considered one of a handful of players who could surpass Williams with strong pre-draft workouts, delighted the media with his stories. Kanter said he had to participate because "no one's seen me play yet."

Williams, meanwhile, was charming when it may have mattered the most - in an interview with executives of the Minnesota Timberwolves.

Minnesota received the No. 2 pick in the draft in Tuesday's lottery, and the Timberwolves could spend it on Williams if they are willing to squeeze him in a lineup with well-regarded forwards Michael Beasley and Kevin Love.

Williams said the Timberwolves mostly asked about "character and personality issues" in a 25-minute meeting that Wolves GM David Kahn said went well.

"It's like the first date and you haven't even ordered yet," Kahn said. "… but he seems like a very bright, personable, thoughtful kid."

Kahn said he scouted Williams in person during the quarterfinals of the Pac-10 tournament, when Williams had 22 points and eight rebounds against Oregon State, and that his staff watched him thoroughly last season.

The Timberwolves plan to bring Williams in for a workout - pending approval from Williams' agent, Rob Pelinka - but said it was far too early to ponder the implications of Williams in the Minnesota lineup.

Or anything else about the draft, for that matter.

"Everyone thinks that we should have this thing figured out by today," Kahn said. "I think the lottery is almost like the starting gun to this whole process. It may look like a very short window of five weeks (before the draft) but you'd be surprised. This next five weeks is like eons in the way it feels."

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Pac-12 basketball standings

  Conference Overall
Utah 6 1 0 0.857 16 3 0 0.842
Arizona 6 1 0 0.857 18 2 0 0.900
Stanford 5 2 0 0.714 14 5 0 0.737
Oregon State 5 2 0 0.714 13 5 0 0.722
Oregon 4 3 0 0.571 14 6 0 0.700
UCLA 3 4 0 0.429 11 9 0 0.550
Colorado 3 4 0 0.429 10 8 0 0.556
Washington 3 4 0 0.429 14 5 0 0.737
Washington State 3 4 0 0.429 9 10 0 0.474
Arizona State 2 5 0 0.286 11 10 0 0.524
California 1 6 0 0.143 11 9 0 0.550
USC 1 6 0 0.143 9 10 0 0.474

AP Top 25

Pac-12 basketball schedule

Teams Date Time
Oregon State at
Arizona State
1/28 6:00 pm
Oregon at
1/28 8:00 pm
Stanford at
1/28 9:00 pm
Colorado at
1/29 7:30 pm
Utah at
1/29 8:00 pm
California at
Washington State
1/29 9:00 pm
Oregon at
Arizona State
1/30 6:00 pm
Oregon State at
1/30 8:00 pm
Stanford at
Washington State
1/31 6:00 pm
Colorado at
1/31 8:30 pm
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