The University of Arizona announced on Wednesday that the forward is leaving school early to go pro. The sophomore indicated that he intends to hire an agent as well, meaning he definitely will not be back for the 2011-12 season.
"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."
The 6-foot-8 Williams is expected to be a lottery pick in this June's draft. NBADraft.net projects Williams to be the No. 1 overall pick and compares him to David West and Michael Beasley.
Williams was considered a lottery pick for much of the season, but he validated any such notion with an incredible NCAA tournament. In four tournament games, Williams averaged 22.8 points and 10.5 rebounds. Those numbers were helped by a 32-point performance as the Wildcats knocked off No. 1-seeded Duke before falling in the Elite Eight to eventual national champion UConn.
"Today is a great day for Derrick Williams and for Arizona basketball," Arizona coach Sean Miller said. "Derrick is a special player and rightfully should be considered to be one of the all-time great Wildcats. As good of a player as he is, he is an even better person."