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Based on what head coach Sean Miller said last week, the next step will be getting Williams back on campus later this summer and seeing how his knee holds up in on-court workouts.
The sophomore had surgery last summer to correct a congenital condition called osteochondritis dissecans that has hindered him since high school and forced him to miss the entire 2019-20 campaign.
“Especially coming back from a surgery of that magnitude, that (last part) may be the most crucial part,” Miller said. “It’s the time where you’re put on the court with others. It’s a time where you get cleared to do more than just straight-line running, jumping, going side to side and shooting. And then you start to monitor his symptoms. Does he experience swelling when you do this? No. And then the other part is… when you go through surgery like you go through, it’s not your knee, you’re more susceptible to other injuries. Like, you lose your hamstring, you lose your quad. He hasn’t played 5-on-5 basketball in quite some time.”
Arizona is one scholarship player over the 13 maximum, leading some to speculate that Williams has played his last game as a Wildcat—especially after he hinted at the possibility of transferring or going pro—but Miller left the door open for a return.
“I think the number one thing we can control is whenever we’re allowed to get him back here, we’re going to do that,” Miller said. “He’ll have our doctors, we’ll have new MRIs, he’ll be able to hopefully pick up where he left off, and give it his best to finish what he started. But for us or anybody to speculate on his future when he was never able to finish the crucial part of his recovery, that’s just not fair right now. I think we just have to let this play out. If we didn’t hit the (corona)virus, I think all the answers would be clearly on the table. Number one, I think he would know himself how healthy he is and what he can and can’t do.”
If Williams is healthy, he would be a dynamic addition to Arizona’s backcourt. The 6-foot-3 combo guard averaged 11.4 points and 3.4 assists per game as a freshman in 2018-19, shooting close to 40 percent from 3 in Pac-12 play despite playing through knee pain.
“With all that we’ve gone through as a program the last couple of years, one of the highlights for me is that we were able to hang on and recruit Brandon to Arizona not one time but twice,” Miller said. “I mean, Brandon is a heck of a basketball player. You guys saw him really at about, I don’t know 75, 80 percent of wherever he was as a freshman, and he was really our leading scorer if not our best overall player in that season. He could have been on the (Pac-12) All-Freshman team if he would have been able to finish. So you plug him in to our team a year ago, that’s something that we wish we had.”