Derrick Williams entering NBA draft
Sophomore forward Derrick Williams, who led Arizona to the NCAA tournament's Elite Eight this season, announced Wednesday he will declare for the NBA draft.
Williams said he intends to hire an agent, forgoing his final two years of eligibility.
The 6-foot-8 Williams is projected to be a lottery pick in June's draft and likely will be among the players in the discussion for the No. 1 overall pick. He averaged 19.5 points and 8.3 rebounds and was named Pac-10 player of the year.
"After careful consideration and with the support of my family and Coach [Sean] Miller, I have decided to declare for the 2011 NBA draft," Williams said in a statement. "I have enjoyed my two years at Arizona both on and off the court. I want to thank my teammates, who are like brothers to me, my coaches and all Wildcat Fans for making my experience an unforgettable one."
Williams had some of his biggest moments late in the season, swatting away a last-second shot to preserve a win against Washington, making another game-saving block in the NCAA tournament opener against Memphis, then scoring on a late three-point play to lift Arizona over Texas the next round. He had a 32-point, 13-rebound performance against defending champion Duke in the regional semifinal.
The Wildcats finished the season with a 30-8 record and captured the Pac-10 regular season title.
Williams didn't come to Arizona as a heralded recruit. He made his way to Tucson after being released from his signed national letter of intent with USC following the resignation of coach Tim Floyd.
Williams was a finalist for the Wooden Award and a second-team All-American after being named the Pac-10 freshman of the year in 2009-10. He displayed diversity in his game this season, shooting 59 percent from the field. Williams also set a single season school record for free throw attempts and shot 56 percent from 3-point range.
"We are all excited to follow his journey to the NBA, and I have no doubt he will be very successful as an NBA player," Miller said in a statement. "We wish him all the best and know that he will be a part of our basketball family forever."
Williams said he will finish the spring semester at Arizona and plans to finish his degree in the future.
Diamond Leung covers college basketball for ESPN.com and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Information from The Associated Press contributed to this report.