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Updated: June 23rd, 2011 6:45pm
David Kahn insists Wolves intend to keep No. 2 pick Derrick Williams

David Kahn insists Wolves intend to keep No. 2 pick Derrick Williams

by Nate Sandell
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MINNEAPOLIS -- Armed with their highest pick in franchise history, the Minnesota Timberwolves selected Arizona forward Derrick Williams with the second pick in the 2011 NBA Draft.

"Derrick is a talented player and a fine young man who had an incredible season for Arizona this past year," president of basketball operations David Kahn said in a statement. "His improvement the past few seasons has been tremendous and we believe he has even more room to grow. His athleticism, shooting touch and ability to get to the free-throw line will be valuable assets for our team. We look forward to him joining our young core of promising players."

Although rumors have circulated of the Wolves being interested in trading Williams, Kahn told a crowd of around 1,000 people at the team's draft party that Williams will be in a Wolves uniform next season.

Williams has already established a familiarity with the organization, spending the off-season training with current Wolves small forwards Michael Beasley and Wesley Johnson.

"I already get along with a lot of the players there so hopefully they do keep me I want to be part of the team and turn that around," Williams said in a conference call.

Measuring in at 6-foot-9, 250 pounds, Williams is a dynamic offensive power, who averaged 19.5 points and shot 57 percent from 3-point range for the Wildcats last season.  With the quickness and adept jump shot of an NBA-caliber small forward, he can also use his size to hold his own at power forward.

One of the biggest concerns with the young are his similarities to current Wolves' small forward Michael Beasley, who would be in direct competition with Williams for playing time.

"Me and Beasley play a little similar but you know it's pretty hard to guard when you have me and Beasley on the court I'd think," Williams said.

There is a high upside to Williams given his steady development from year-to-year. Lightly recruited out of La Miriada high school in California, he originally intended to play for the University Southern California, but opted for Arizona after former head coach Tim Floyd resigned. He established himself quickly in his freshman season en route to First-Team All-Pac-10 honors, recording 15.7 points per game 7.1 rebounds.

Expectations were elevated heading into his sophomore year, but Williams delivered. He piloted the Wildcats to Elite Eight of the 2011 NCAA tournament, before losing to eventual champion UConn. The awards continued to pile up as he was named the 2010-11 Pac-10 Player of the Year and finished as a finalist for the John R. Wooden award.

"I don't think I've hit my peak yet and I always wanna get better," Williams said. "Down the line I want to be a great player and the only way I'm gonna get there is to keep working hard."

The Wolves plan to officially introduce Williams to the media on Friday.

Nate Sandell is a contributor to
Email Nate | @nsandell