For those who are excited about conference regular season basketball, the departure of one star player means everything. This is precisely what's happened in the Pac-12, as Derrick Williams makes his inevitable move to the pros. Williams was almost certainly going to be a lottery pick this season, and his performance in the NCAA tournament (including a mighty first half performance in the upset of Duke in the Sweet 16) went a long way toward ensuring that status will remain where it is.
He certainly won't be missed by Bay Area teams. Williams averaged 17.5 points and 8.5 rebounds per game against the Stanford Cardinal in an Arizona series sweep. Williams was even more potent against the California Golden Bears. He put up 31 points and 12 rebounds in their first matchup, shooting an incredible 22 free throws to guide the Wildcats to a narrow victory in Tucson, then pulled down 18 boards before fouling out in their triple overtime thriller in Berkeley. The man was not to be trifled with in Pac-10 play.
With Cal's biggest issue being size down low due to the youth of Richard Solomon, Williams's departure is a welcome relief, and gives them one less big body to worry about in the conference. Jon Wilner of the San Jose Mercury News believes it makes the conference title a two team race between Cal and UCLA, which might not be too far off from reality. Dwight Powell at Stanford could also benefit.
For more perspective on Williams from Arizona fans, head to Arizona Desert Swarm.