Arizona Basketball

Derrick Williams, Rondae Hollis-Jefferson taking bite out of Big Apple


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The huge metropolis of New York is certainly big enough for Derrick Williams and Rondae Hollis-Jefferson.

The question now becomes: Can the NBA aspirations of the former Arizona stars make it as big as the Big Apple?

Hollis-Jefferson’s NBA career begins with the Brooklyn Nets on Saturday in the Orlando Summer League. Williams will spend his fifth NBA season with the New York Knicks after signing a two-year, $10 million deal Friday night.

Williams’ NBA career started in 2011 after Minnesota picked him with the No. 2 selection overall, the highest spot for a former Arizona player in the draft.

Hollis-Jefferson’s beginning is not as hyped as the No. 24 selection overall by Portland last week, only to be traded the same night to Brooklyn.

They have the similarity of playing for Sean Miller for only two seasons at Arizona and each wore No. 23 for the Arizona Wildcats. They are on to bigger things, much bigger, in their careers playing in the New York metropolis.

Hollis-Jefferson comes from the blue-collar town of Chester, Pa., and Williams has only played in the smaller markets of Minnesota and Sacramento in his brief NBA career.

New York City can be too daunting for the inexperienced or a welcomed platform for a performer who wants to show the world what they can do. Both Hollis-Jefferson and Williams have confident personalities to match what the New York media will present with their no-holds-barred coverage, the kind the former Arizona stars have not experienced before.

Expect Hollis-Jefferson to be matched against Williams when Brooklyn and New York meet at the Barclays Center or Madison Square Garden. Some 2,450 miles away from Tucson, in the largest city in the United States, two players essential to the development of Miller’s Top 10 program at Arizona will share the same stage.

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Site founder and award-winning sports journalist Javier Morales has published his first e-book, “The Highest Form of Living”, a fiction piece about a young man who overcomes a troubled upbringing without his lost father and wayward mother through basketball and hope. His hope is realized through the sport he loves. Basketball enables him to get past his fears. His experience on the court indirectly brings him closer to his parents in a unique, heartfelt way. Please order it at Amazon (for only $4.99) by clicking on the photo:
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The Shimmy vs. D-Will in Gotham is something out of a comic book but only a headline act for folks in Tucson. Hollis-Jefferson and Williams must prove their worth to the New York City population.

Like Williams tweeted on Friday: “If you can make it here, you can make it anywhere.”

Nobody more than Miller and Arizona assistant coach Book Richardson, a native New Yorker, want both Hollis-Jefferson and Williams to be successful in New York. Hollis-Jefferson and Williams carry with them the Arizona brand.

If they can make it there, other New York and East coast talent know they can make it at Arizona.

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ALLSPORTSTUCSON.com publisher, writer and editor Javier Morales is a former Arizona Press Club award winner. He has also written articles for Bleacher Report and Lindy’s College Sports.

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