CHICAGO - The most important thing Derrick Williams did during the NBA draft combine may have actually happened before workouts even began.

That's when he met Wednesday evening with executives from the Minnesota Timberwolves, who hold the No. 2 spot in the NBA Draft and could take Williams with it.

"It's like the first date and you haven't even ordered yet," said David Kahn, the Wolves' GM. "We were only allowed 25 minutes ... 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 a typical 22 point-eight rebound output 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 - and when asked of his early opinion, Kahn said Williams' skills were "favorable."

Certainly, Williams is trying to convince the Timberwolves and the rest of the NBA that he's more than that. During media interviews today, Williams and nearly all of the other 53 invitees to the combine spoke of what they can do and how good a fit they would be of the NBA.

Even Williams, who oozed a personable combination of confidence and humility during his two-year career at Arizona, didn't even flinch when asked if he was the best player in the draft.

"Yes, sir," he said. "Definitely."

Williams was asked why he did not participate in the skills work Wednesday --- many key players do not participate fully - and the interview tone turned slightly defensive.

"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 and 8, shot 56 percent from three. There was really nothing else to prove."

Williams said it didn't matter where he was chosen in the draft, but noted that "whoever doesn't, I'll try to get back at them."

But if the Cleveland Cavaliers pulled a surprise and picked Williams first, at least one thing would change. LeBron James just happened to wear No. 23 for the Cavaliers.

"Obviously, I'm going to have to change my college number," Williams said.

"If they pick me, I'll have big shoes to fill. But I'm not really focused on who's going to pick me right now. I'm just trying to work out as hard as I can, being in the best shape I can so if there is a lockout or whatever I can be ready as soon as the season starts."


Joe Pasternack said he spent the past two days in Tucson, clinching both Sean Miller's interest in him and his interest in the Wildcats.

They must have hit it off pretty well because the two had no history of working together.

"We have a lot of people we know in common but ultimately we just forged a relationship over the past couple of weeks," Pasternack said. "Coach Miller is one of the top coaches in America, the total package. And that was important that I would be working for somebody like that."

Pasternack is making the unusual move of head coach to assistant coach because the University of New Orleans is moving down from Division I to Division II next season.

Pasternack said he has no timetable to return to the head coach's chair, though it doesn't figure to be long.

"Honestly for me, my No. 1 goal is to coach for Arizona and help coach Miller win," Pasternack said. "And the itch to be a head coach? I've been a head coach. To me, what I want to do is help coach Miller be one of the top coaches in America year in and year out."


Sportswriter for the Arizona Daily Star covering Arizona Wildcats basketball