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
Arizona 0 0 0 0.000 12 0 0 1.000
Washington 0 0 0 0.000 10 0 0 1.000
California 0 0 0 0.000 10 1 0 0.909
Utah 0 0 0 0.000 8 2 0 0.800
Oregon 0 0 0 0.000 8 3 0 0.727
UCLA 0 0 0 0.000 8 4 0 0.667
Oregon State 0 0 0 0.000 7 3 0 0.700
USC 0 0 0 0.000 7 4 0 0.636
Arizona State 0 0 0 0.000 6 5 0 0.545
Stanford 0 0 0 0.000 6 3 0 0.667
Colorado 0 0 0 0.000 6 3 0 0.667
Washington State 0 0 0 0.000 5 6 0 0.455

AP Top 25

Pac-12 basketball schedule

Teams Date Time
Delaware State at
12/20 70-83
12/20 42-83
Lehigh at
Arizona State
12/20 84-81
Oklahoma at
12/20 67-69
USC at
Boston College
12/21 75-71
DePaul at
12/22 2:30 pm
Wisconsin at
12/22 7:00 pm
UC-Santa Barbara at
12/22 7:00 pm
Tulane at
12/22 9:00 pm
Detroit at
Arizona State
12/23 1:00 pm
Stanford at
12/23 5:00 pm
South Dakota State at
12/23 7:00 pm
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