Pac-12 basketball: Now the old guy, CJ Wilcox looks to lead the Huskies
San Francisco • For so much of his career, he's been the young guy, the one who had older teammates to defer to.
Now, CJ Wilcox looks around at practice, scans his teammates, and the realization hits: He's now the old guy.
The shooting guard at Washington is one of the best players in the Pac-12. The Pleasant Grove native who used to battle BYU's Tyler Haws in high school is a rarity in college basketball. He's a fifth-year senior who doubles as a legitimate NBA prospect.
The Huskies were picked to finish eighth in the conference by the media on Thursday. If they are to make a move, it will be on Wilcox's back and his shooting stroke.
"I want to make sure we're consistent," Wilcox said. "I want to do whatever it takes to win games. I want to go out with a bang, and I want to do it the right way."
This is truly Wilcox's team. Nigel Williams-Goss, a freshman, will be passing him the ball. The starting lineup will have one other senior Perris Blackwell and he wasn't with the team last season. Wilcox will be looked to for offense. He will be counted on to stay healthy and to carry the load every night.
For Wilcox, that hasn't always been the case. He's had NBA-bound teammates to play with his entire career. On this roster, there isn't a sure-fire future pro.
"He's worked hard and he's one of the best shooters in the league," Washington coach Lorenzo Romar said. "He's a leader and he does so by example. He's a great player and a great person."
Talk of the day
Many of the questions on Thursday centered around the newcomers of the league specifically, Arizona's Aaron Gordon, one of the most athletic forwards to enter the Pac-12 in recent memory.
Gordon is expected to be the top freshman in a league full of star rookies. He will start for the Wildcats, and his dunking ability even has been compared to Blake Griffin.
"The thing that we love is how hard he works," Arizona coach Sean Miller said. "He's a special person that way. He's driven to get better and we love that about him."
Most of media day provided predictable comments from coaches and players. Colorado point guard Spencer Dinwiddie didn't subscribe to that, however.
Dinwiddie said he considers the Buffaloes to be the Pac-12 favorite, despite Arizona being an overwhelming preseason conference winner.
"We don't view Arizona as the top team like everyone else," Dinwiddie said.
Three Pac-12 teams will begin the season ranked in the USA Today Coaches Poll Arizona at No. 5, Oregon at 18 and UCLA at 23.
Colorado, Arizona State and California are all receiving votes.
"The league is stronger than it has been in recent years," Pac-12 commissioner Larry Scott said.