April 5, 2012

Grading the Huskies: C.J. Wilcox

If C.J. Wilcox didn't suffer a nagging hip injury in January that forced him to miss three games and be less than 100 percent in countless others, it's very possible the Huskies would have had three All-Pac-12 First Team players.

That's certainly high praise for the redshirt sophomore out of Pleasant Grove, but he earned it.

Before the injury, Wilcox was averaging 15.5 points, 3.6 rebounds, 1.4 assists, 0.9 blocks, and 1.3 steals per game. All of those numbers dropped a bit after his injury as a result of a decrease in minutes, but that shouldn't take away from how well he performed.

Wilcox had already proved how good he really is.

The sophomore was absolutely deadly from the outside. He "only" shot 40 percent from long range (best on the team), but he has the type of stroke that makes it look like the ball is going in every time he shoots it. If Wilcox isn't a 50 percent 3-point shooter by his senior year, I'll be surprised. And in case you need more evidence he is Washington's best shooter, Wilcox knocked down 84 percent of his free throws, easily the best on the team.

But Wilcox isn't just a shooter, as his freshman season suggested he might be. During Wilcox's first year at Washington, over 70 percent of his points came from long range.
And this year? Just under 49 percent.

Wilcox may be loved around Montlake because of his ability to knock it down from deep, but his work during the offseason turned him into so much more than that.

With Terrence Ross and Tony Wroten off to the NBA, a common worry is that the Huskies now don't have anyone who can create his own shot. But if Wilcox takes another huge step forward in developing his game like he did this year, he's going to be just as dangerous off the dribble as he is off the catch-and-shoot.

What's more, Wilcox uses his impressive 6-foot-5 frame to be effective in other aspects of the game. For a shooting guard, he's a very good rebounder. He doesn't get a ton of opportunities because it's not usually his job to crash the glass, but when he needs to, it's clear Wilcox is a natural rebounder.

On defense is probably where he lacks the most, and by that, I mean on-ball defense. He often had trouble getting through screens and staying in front of his man, but he made up for that by jumping into passing lanes for steals and constantly recording athletic, weak-side blocks.

Besides Ross, there was no one better at the run-down block than Wilcox.

Throw in the fact that Wilcox was willing to accept the sixth-man role after starting 15 games, and he earns an A- for his terrific season.

Up next: Abdul Gaddy.

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