The Los Angeles Clippers make C.J. Wilcox the seventh first-round draft choice in the Lorenzo Romar era at UW. It’s just as his father Craig planned more than a half-dozen years ago, before C.J. asked to redshirt and then finished as the Huskies’ No. 2 all-time scorer.
By Gregg Bell
UW Athletics Director of Writing
SEATTLE -- The C.J. Wilcox Plan — the one his dad devised more than a half-dozen years ago, when C.J. was in high school outside Salt Lake City — has paid off.
How much? Oh, about $2,899,200.
That’s what Wilcox, the second-leading scorer and perhaps deadliest outside shooter in Husky basketball history, is slotted to earn as the No. 28 overall pick of the Los Angeles Clippers in Thursday’s NBA draft. That is for a two-year contract with a third option year, per the league’s collective bargaining agreement for rookies in the 2014 draft class.
Wilcox is the seventh first-round draft choice in Lorenzo Romar’s 12 years leading UW. The others: Nate Robinson, Brandon Roy, Quincy Pondexter, Spencer Hawes, Tony Wroten and Terrence Ross.
Clippers coach Doc Rivers loves sharpshooting guards. He may not yet know it, but there is so much more to love about the 23-year-old Wilcox than his jumper.
Wilcox, who told those close to him he expected to go anywhere from 23rd to 35th overall Thursday, was under-appreciated out of Pleasant Grove High School in the Salt Lake City suburbs five years ago. His father Craig, who played at nearby Brigham Young (1993-95), has schooled his son since early grade school on his jump shot during early mornings and late nights — and even retooled the stroke a few years ago.
Dad also made C.J. realize his upside was in his future rather than his present.
That’s why the Huskies aren’t going to have too many more like Wilcox. He is a vanishing breed in this basketball era of “one and done,” when seemingly every guy owning a pair of sneakers thinking he should be in the NBA. As in, already.
When he got to UW in the late summer of 2009, Wilcox and his dad told Romar they didn’t want C.J. to star. They requested to redshirt. Right away.
"Golly,” Romar said when asked how UW should remember Wilcox. “So much stability and humility with him.
“It’s just, I don’t know how many times you are going to find this in today’s era where a kid supported totally by his family (has) no one in his ear telling him, ‘You have to do this,’ or ‘You are going to be one and done if you do that.’ (They decided) C.J. has a real upside. And that if he does things right, he can become really good and become an NBA player.
“And that started with him redshirting (the 2009-10 season). Again, that was not our idea. That came from the Wilcox camp. And they stuck with that.”
As Romar said in March: “One of the best players to ever put on a Husky uniform.”
He’s the second-leading scorer in the 111-year history of Huskies basketball, 1,880 points, 193 behind Chris Welp. He leaves as the leading 3-point shooter in UW history, and sixth-best in Pac-12 history. He led his team in blocked shots last season – as a 6-foot-5 guard.
He never deviated from the plan he, his dad and his mother Mandy set – not even after NBA scouts and league front-office men told him in the spring of 2013 he could enter the draft then and go as high as late in last year’s first round.
“I didn’t see it coming,” Wilcox said of his success at UW. “But I guess every year I continued to get better and started seeing things as a vision, and started to attack them.
“I’m glad I was able to get it done.”
Jim Shaw, the former Huskies assistant who left before last season and is now at Saint Mary’s, found Wilcox draining rainbows at an AAU summer tournament in Houston more than a half-dozen years ago, before C.J.’s senior year of high school. He was there to watch another prospect on another court. When that guy left the game he was watching, Shaw scanned the four other floors in the arena and found a tall, lightning-fast guard with the sweetest stroke.
“I remember it exactly,” Shaw said Thursday night from the Bay Area. “His team was in red uniforms. He was the other brother on the team. And he had dreadlocks.
“I remember thinking, ‘Man, is he FAST!’ And I stayed with it long enough to see him take one shot. I was like, ‘Wow!’’
Shaw returned early the next morning to watch Wilcox’s team in the first game of the day, and saw the same thing. He went to Pleasant Grove in Utah to watch him a third time that summer, and couldn’t believe he wasn’t a highly regarded recruit.
“He was three stars or four stars,” Shaw said, referring to recruiting services’ rating on players. ‘He was no stars. He wasn’t on anyone’s radar He didn’t even have a radar."
Shaw eventually got Romar to change his summer recruiting plans to visit Wilcox back in Utah. That got UW Wilcox’s commitment even before the July recruiting period — and before BYU or hometown Utah could even decide if they wanted to move on him.
That’s how Wilcox became a Husky – and Thursday night, a $3 million pick of a playoff team in the first round of the NBA draft.
“Funny,” Shaw said, “he thought the Clippers was one of his poorest workouts.”
True to his classy nature, Wilcox publicly thanked Shaw for discovering him in March at the Huskies’ annual team banquet, days before the Pac-12 tournament. And Wilcox called Shaw often over the 24 hours preceding the draft, through to the Clippers drafting him and turning his five-year plan into reality.
As Shaw said tonight: “Pretty special kid.”
"You know, he’s been big time,” Shawn said. “It’s really neat — because he’s a great kid."