Quantcast
Get breaking news alerts via email

Click here to manage your alerts
College basketball: Washington’s C.J. Wilcox ready for lead role

Ex-Pleasant Grove star eager to carry bigger load at Washington.

First Published Jul 22 2012 06:14 pm • Last Updated Oct 30 2012 11:32 pm

C.J. Wilcox has done it quietly and without much fanfare.

He’s taken criticism for turning his back on Utah, when it seemed as if he were a lock to be a Ute coming out of Pleasant Grove High four years ago. He’s bided his time and waited his turn in Washington’s backcourt, annually stacked with NBA draft prospects. And Lorenzo Romar, his head coach, has been present through it all, pushing Wilcox to become more assertive, encouraging him to step out of his comfort zone whenever possible.

Photos
At a glance

C.J. Wilcox file

» Played basketball at Pleasant Grove High

» Is currently projected as a second-round NBA pick by multiple websites

» Will start at shooting guard for Washington

» Is a former Tribune first-team All-State selection

» Was injured this past season with a stress fracture in his leg

» Is regarded as one of the best pure shooters in college basketball

Join the Discussion
Post a Comment

Now, Wilcox seems to be in full bloom.

He heads into his junior season with the Huskies as their top perimeter option. At 6-foot-5, Wilcox is regarded as one of the best shooters in the country. Next summer, he may be the next player from the state of Utah to be drafted into the NBA, much like Damian Lillard and Justin Hamilton this year, and Jimmer Fredette from a season ago.

"If he were to have a good season, and some things were to fall into place, people think he has the potential to be a first-round pick," Romar said. "If that were to happen, I’m sure he would take a good, hard look at it."

Already, nbadraft.net and draftexpress.com have Wilcox on their mock draft boards. Wilcox enhanced his reputation this summer by playing well at the Kevin Durant Skills Academy, an invitation-only camp.

Each day, Wilcox enters a gym and puts up 500 jump shots, minimum. His athleticism, speed and defense have improved as well.

"I try to get better whenever I touch a ball," Wilcox said. "I thought the Kevin Durant camp was very good. It gave me a chance to test myself against some of the best players in the country. It’s given me a lot of confidence that I can play with and compete against anyone."

Opportunity is what’s most important for Wilcox this coming season. Washington has always been stacked in the backcourt. This year, however, there’s no Terrence Ross, no Tony Wroten, no Isaiah Thomas to share shots with.

Wilcox is the man on the perimeter, which will be new to him. He will receive the bulk of the shots, and the chances to improve on his sophomore season, when he averaged 14.2 points per game, will be plenty.


story continues below
story continues below

"I think it’s hard for guys to go away and to want to get away from home," said Johnnie Bryant, who trains Wilcox in the offseason. "But C.J. was able to go to a program that’s given him the freedom to do his thing. He has a free spirit. He’s one of the best shooters around, and he’s making a name for himself."

Wilcox has two seasons of eligibility remaining. He will also be 22 years old next summer. The NBA is short on its tolerance for older players, and Wilcox is swiftly approaching that threshold, after redshirting his first season.

As a result, he and his father, Craig, are approaching this season as potentially his last in a college uniform. Sure, Wilcox could struggle in his new role, or experience injury like he did late last season.

But, if Wilcox flourishes, and Washington plays well as a team, there is a very real chance that he will declare early for the draft.

Romar knows this possibility well. He’s seen players leave his program early in the past three seasons. He’s also ready for it to go either way with his star shooting guard, who already has an NBA skill in his jump shot.

"We haven’t been surprised by anyone leaving our program yet," Romar said. "I think C.J. is poised to have a tremendous season. He’s come in from day one and been one of the top shooters on our team."

Wilcox knows that he has to make improvements to his overall game. He’s been playing better defense, and he’s been more aggressive off the dribble. If anything, though, this year is a test to see if he can truly handle the spotlight that a top option typically attracts.

He has to be a leader. He has to make shots under pressure. He has to make his teammates better, and he has to take a Washington team that woefully underachieved last season to expected heights.

"This is a big year for sure, but I’m ready for it to start," Wilcox said. "I think we have the chance to have a really good team. I just want to win. That’s my first goal. Everything else is secondary."

tjones@sltrib.comon twitter: @tonyaggieville



Copyright 2014 The Salt Lake Tribune. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Top Reader Comments Read All Comments Post a Comment
Click here to read all comments   Click here to post a comment


About Reader Comments


Reader comments on sltrib.com are the opinions of the writer, not The Salt Lake Tribune. We will delete comments containing obscenities, personal attacks and inappropriate or offensive remarks. Flagrant or repeat violators will be banned. If you see an objectionable comment, please alert us by clicking the arrow on the upper right side of the comment and selecting "Flag comment as inappropriate". If you've recently registered with Disqus or aren't seeing your comments immediately, you may need to verify your email address. To do so, visit disqus.com/account.
See more about comments here.
Staying Connected
Videos
Jobs
Contests and Promotions
  • Search Obituaries
  • Place an Obituary

  • Search Cars
  • Search Homes
  • Search Jobs
  • Search Marketplace
  • Search Legal Notices

  • Other Services
  • Advertise With Us
  • Subscribe to the Newspaper
  • Login to the Electronic Edition
  • Frequently Asked Questions
  • Contact a newsroom staff member
  • Access the Trib Archives
  • Privacy Policy
  • Missing your paper? Need to place your paper on vacation hold? For this and any other subscription related needs, click here or call 801.204.6100.