This is kind of old news, but you’ll forgive me if I don’t feel much like writing about the Mariners right now.
It was announced – I want to say last week – that C.J. Wilcox will be staying at the University of Washington. On the one hand, as a Husky fan, you want to distance yourself as much as possible from last year’s rusty coathanger abortion of a season and say goodbye to as many players from that team as possible. But, if you were paying attention, then you would know that what happened last season isn’t really Wilcox’s fault.
First and foremost, you’re talking about a guy who had a nagging foot injury that hampered his production down the stretch. There were a lot of so-so, single-digit scoring games in the last 2-3 months. I think that foot was a big reason why.
I also think that he was mis-played. C.J. Wilcox isn’t a scorer; he’s a shooter. Players like Wilcox aren’t meant to be the focal point of an offense. And, when they are, and they’re clamped down upon by the other team’s best defender, he’s going to struggle. AND, when you’ve got no one else on the team to pick up the slack, then you have a season like we had last year.
What you need with a guy like C.J. Wilcox on your team is a competent point guard, which the Huskies absolutely did not have last season. He needs a guy to drive the paint, collect stray defenders, and dish to him open in the corner. He needs a guy to attract the other team’s best defender, so he’s not under blanket coverage all game.
Of course, just because he’s a shooter doesn’t mean I want him out there jacking threes all game. He can come off screens and curl in for 2-point baskets. He can drive the lane occasionally. But, what I said before is correct: he’s not a pure scorer. If his outside shot isn’t falling, he’s not going to find another way to get to 20 points. In his Husky career, he has never had a season where he attempted more than 3.4 free throws per game. When he struggles, he’s either gotta shoot his way out of it, or he’s going to end up with some nasty games here and there. But, as long as he’s not depended upon to be our #1 guy, then that’s fine. We can weather games where C.J. Wilcox doesn’t have it.
But, for his sake, he better not make that a habit.
Make no mistake, C.J. Wilcox is making a very smart move by coming back to school. It’s my guess he’d go undrafted this year and struggle to try to make a team as an undrafted free agent. Most likely, he’d end up overseas to start his career, and who knows if he’d ever make it back?
Oddly enough, C.J. Wilcox needs to work on his outside shooting more than anything else! After hitting from behind the arc at a 40% clip, his numbers dipped last season to 36.6%. You hate to see that. Maybe that was the foot issue, maybe that was because he had all-conference defenders covering him. Either way, he wasn’t able to step up to the challenge during a VERY challenging season, and now his stock has fallen.
Yes, he needs to work on his other issues – driving the paint, ball handling, getting to the free throw line – but his bread is buttered by his outside shooting. And, once that starts lagging behind, his professional career is going to be fucked.
So, good on him for making the right decision. The Huskies have talent coming in next season that is sure to take some of the scoring pressure off of Wilcox. Now, it’s up to his body to stay healthy and it’s up to him to make shots. The NBA is waiting, kid. Don’t let your fans down.