Derrick Williams finally fessed up about one of college hoops’ worst-kept secrets Wednesday: He played the final two months of the season with a broken pinky.
Arizona maintained that when Williams’ finger got bent backward on Jan. 27 against UCLA that it was a severe sprain. He didn’t miss any games and played many of the following games with his hand wrapped, but eventually settled on just having the pinky sealed in a wrap of gauze and bandages.
The crazy part? It was this close to ending his season.
“If I cracked it a half inch lower, I would have had to have surgery,” he told the Tucson Citizen. “If I had to sit out, I would sit out, but I wasn’t going to sit out if there was no reason. I just wanted to continue to play with my teammates for as long as I could.”
Thing is, most knew it was probably broken. Washington’s Matthew Bryan-Amaning said after their Feb. 20 game that “the fact that he’s also able to play with a broken hand is commendable.” I did a double take at Wednesday’s story because I thought it was labeled a broken digit from the start.
But Williams and the team wanted to keep it under wraps to avoid anyone making the injury any more serious. (Given that everyone knew he was hurt, not sure the strategy was needed.)
“I think that if you tell people that you’re injured, then people on the other team go after your injuries more, like intentionally slapping my hand when I’d go up for a shot, or something like that,” Williams said Wednesday. “I was just trying to keep it under wraps, trying to keep as much padding on it as possible. Playing with three fingers, obviously there was something wrong.”
Regardless, it merely confirms that Williams’ stellar season – 19.5 points and 8.3 rebounds a game, Pac-10 player of the year and second-team All-American – was even more impressive.
How many players can you think of who logged two game-winning blocks and made 57 percent of his 3-pointers with a broken finger?
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