By Susan Lulgjuraj | Contributing Editor
Panini America didn’t wait to see where Derrick Williams would be drafted in Thursday’s 2011 NBA Draft. It feels University of Arizona star will be taken with one of the first two picks.
So, it already signed him to an exclusive agreement.
What does that mean for collectors?
The only place to find Williams’ autograph or memorabilia cards will be in Panini products, which became the exclusive NBA trading card partner at the start of 2009-2010 season.
His first card will be in 2011-12 NBA Prestige.
“It’s every little kid’s dream to get that first NBA Rookie Card and that was no different for me,” Williams said. “Signing with the great team at Panini is a huge step in me realizing that dream. I can’t wait to see what they have in store for my basketball cards.”
Williams is the reigning Pac-10 Player of the Year. As a sophomore, he averaged 19.5 points and 8.3 rebounds in 38 games, and led Arizona to the Elite Eight of the NCAA tournament.
He was one of the most efficient power forwards last season and was relied upon heavily by the Wildcats.
Williams joins Kobe Bryant, Kevin Durant, Blake Griffin and John Wall to its list of exclusive athletes. Williams’ items could also be found in Panini Authentic products, a line of collectibles.
“Derrick has been one of the most talked-about prospects in college basketball for years and his spectacular two-year career at Arizona showed the world why,” Panini America CEO Mark Warsop said. “We’re thrilled to have him join the Panini team and we’re excited to share his only licensed trading cards and memorabilia with a collecting world that has been awaiting his arrival.”