2011 featured some great moments from both the Arizona Wildcats and Arizona St. Sun Devils as a whole, but it could not have been done without the performances from a few individual players. While there were many candidates for SB Nation Arizona's award for the Collegiate Athlete Of The Year, one player stood out above the rest: Derrick Williams of the UA Wildcats.
Williams, a 6'8 forward who spent 2011 as a sophomore in Tucson, was a unanimous selection for the All-American team and was selected with the No. 2 pick in the NBA Draft by the Minnesota Timberwolves. Williams averaged 19.5 points and 8.3 rebounds per-game at Arizona and led the 'Cats to the Elite Eight, where they lost to the Connecticut Huskies at the buzzer.
To Arizona fans, they may never see a player improve as much as they saw D-Will improve in his two seasons. An unheralded recruit out of high school, Williams made a name for himself with his highlight reel dunks and game-saving blocks. A player as humble as they come, those in Tucson and around the nation fell in love with his charisma and contagious smile.
The best moment of Williams' career at Arizona came in the NCAA Tournament. In the first round against Memphis, Williams saved the game with a block in the final seconds. In the second round against Texas, Williams won the game with an and-one layup (at 4:25) in the final seconds. Finally, he dominated Duke in the Sweet 16 as he scored 32 points.
There are not enough words to describe what Derrick Williams meant to the Arizona Wildcats and his efforts will never be forgotten in Tucson.
Stay tuned to SB Nation Arizona for the rest of our awards.