I have spent a lot of time throughout the past couple months talking about the possibilities of Justin Wilcox, the first year defensive coordinator for the husky football team, and then the magic of Justin Wilcox, and now I’m beginning to talk about what happened to Justin Wilcox and his defense. Well, that will still be a topic for dissection over the rest of the football season, but it is not time to begin discussing C.J. Wilcox, the sharp shooting redshirt junior for Coach Romar’s team.
As a redshirt freshman, Wilcox averaged just over 8 points per game on 40% three point shooting while only getting about 15 minutes a game. He wasn’t one of the most important players on the roster, but his jump shooting heroics in specific games led the fanbase to pay attention.
Last year, Wilcox stepped his game up tremendously, elevating his scoring average to 14.2 while keeping his three point shooting percentage just above 40% once again. His role on the team was expanded as well, and he saw his minutes rise to 28.5 per game. Usually a third option behind Tony Wroten and Terrence Ross, during periods of time that saw Wroten struggle, Wilcox was often one of the only steady scoring options on the team. We also saw an expansion of his game from a pure spot-up jump shooter to slightly more of an all around scorer. Occasional drives to the rim or floaters became more common, though these other skills really only served to give a little space for the jump shot.
This evolution on the court was even more impressive when you consider that Wilcox was slowed down by a stress fracture in his hip for most of the second half of the season, to the point that he played in games but did not practice at all during the week. Not only did he miss a few games, but when he was able to play, he was in a great amount of pain and did not have the added benefit of practice. Yet, he still remained an effective player.
Now, with Wilcox a fully healthy junior and both Wroten and Ross gone to the NBA, we could see another statistical jump forward. First 8 points, then 14, and now, I wouldn’t be surprised to see 18 or 19. Besides Scott Suggs, the senior who redshirted last year due to injury, Wilcox is the only remotely proven scorer on the team, and with another year to improve both his shooting, ball handling, and inside game, expect the ball in his hands almost constantly.
It will be interesting to see if defenses are able to see this and put more defensive pressure on Wilcox than he has experienced in the past, perhaps leading to lower shooting percentages than he enjoyed when he was a third option sometimes lost by the defense, but I wouldn’t count on it. Wilcox is talented and resilient, and I expect this to be his breakout year.