An almost-fractured foot, too many minutes, defenses keying 100% on him. These were some of the reasons C.J. Wilcox ended last season with more of a whimper than a bang. He is now looking to rectify that end, and "finish what [he] started."He returns for a senior season where he will be looked on as the sole leader of the Washington basketball team that he has been a part of for the last five seasons.
After averaging 34.5 minutes per game, on the previously mentioned injured foot, Lorenzo Romar plans to limit his minutes in the coming season. "There were times he was worn out." Wilcox: "We talked about not playing as much and instead playing quality minutes. We'll have enough guys that I think I will be able to do that and not have to stay on the floor as much as I did this past year." Wilcox twice played 39 minutes in a game, once in overtime against the Oregon Ducks in their final game before the NIT, and the other coming against Nevada.
As for his foot, Romar said, "It will eventually be fine. ... He's not at a point right now where he can go 100 percent." Wilcox will not undergo surgery on his foot. Wilcox walked with a visible limp at times during the season, most likely due to the pain in his foot. His foot healing will be a major factor in how effective he is next season.
Washington's MVP last season put up almost 17 points per game, which led all Washington scorers. There was a point in January where Wilcox was averaging over 20 points, but that slowly curtailed into the 16.8 he finished with. A lot of that can be attributed to the foot, and probably also to the wear and tear of playing nearly 35 minutes each game.
While he will play less minutes, Wilcox's role while he is on the floor will expand. It will include "more of being an all-around basketball player. ... He'll be on the floor making more decisions with the ball. ... You know for sure you have a go-to guy." Not only will his role as a basketball player will be increased. His role as a recruiter, however indirect will be large. When asked about how the return of Wilcox would affect recruiting, Romar responded, "I think really good players want to play with really good players."
In other related news, Washington assistant coach Lamont Smith has accepted a position at New Mexico. In his place will be Paul Fortier, already an assistant for Romar. Washington created the director of player personnel position for Smith last season, and after one year he bolts to New Mexico. Romar said, "(Smith) is kind of an associate head coach. Almost like the co-head coach." There are currently no plans to hire a new assistant.
The place where Smith may be felt the most is in recruiting on the west coast. He is considered a strong recruiter and played a large role in Washington landing Jahmel Taylor in the upcoming recruiting class that includes Nigel-Williams-Goss, McDonald's All-American, and also Darin Johnson.
When asked about the Husky fans, Wilcox finished with, "I'm really excited to come back and play again in front of them. They really stuck by me through the year, so thanks for the support. I'm looking forward to playing in front of you all again next year." He's talking about us guys! He said thank you, to us!