SEATTLE (AP) — C.J. Wilcox is bypassing a shot at the NBA and returning to Washington for his senior year, giving the Huskies one more season with their leading scorer as they try to get back to the NCAA tournament after a two-year absence.
The school announced Wilcox's decision on Thursday. Wilcox submitted his name for evaluation by NBA executives and most came back believing Wilcox would be a late first or likely second-round selection if he left after his junior year.
"The main thing is that my dad and I were talking and thinking back to about when I first got here and the vision to redshirt my first year and have that last year to become the best player that I can be and lead the team," Wilcox said in comments provided by the school. "We were not expecting the NBA to come into the picture so fast. That kind of got off track and we lost track of the vision. We started seriously considering it and meeting with agents, but at the end of the day we went back and wanted to finish what we started."
Wilcox led the Huskies averaging 16.8 points per game, good for sixth in the Pac-12. He was a second-team all-Pac-12 selection and played most of the conference season while battling a foot injury. He topped 20 points in 14 games and was the Huskies' leading scorer in 22 of their 34 games.
Wilcox spent his first two years with the Huskies mostly as a perimeter shooter, before expanding his game last season when he was asked to take on the bulk of the scoring load. Wilcox said he was surprised how many of the NBA evaluators believed he was just a spot-up shooter.
"A lot of the NBA doesn't know that I'm athletic and that I'm more than a stand-still shooter," he said. "I need to continue to work on ball-handling and getting to the free throw line more. I need to be more of a leader and help the team get more wins."
Washington coach Lorenzo Romar expects Wilcox to be able to show that versatility next season. The Huskies should have more scoring depth around Wilcox next season, allowing him to take less of the load and display the versatility to do more than just shoot. Wilcox's return means the Huskies will lose only three starters off their squad that went 18-16 and lost in the first-round of the NIT to BYU.
"I think we will see his role being all-around basketball player that won't just be the guy that is receiving the ball to make shots, but also distributing the ball to make shots," Romar said on a conference call. "He'll be out on the floor making more decisions with the ball in his hands."
Romar also announced that assistant Lamont Smith is leaving after one season to take an assistant coaching job at New Mexico. Romar said he doesn't expect any additions to his staff that already includes assistants Paul Fortier, Jim Shaw and Brad Jackson.