WILCOX HAS BEEN THROUGH CROWDED DEPTH CHART BEFORE
Eric Patten, Clippers.com
PLAYA VISTA – Clippers rookie C.J. Wilcox knows the feeling.
Sitting in front of the Los Angeles media for the first time, wearing a black suit, white shirt and black tie, Wilcox talked adjusting to life on a contender, about learning from the guys ahead of him on the depth chart, about biding his time.
Wilcox, who was the 28th pick by the Clippers in last Thursday’s Draft and will wear jersey No. 30, was introduced at the team’s training center in Playa Vista Monday morning. Entering his first NBA summer, he’s projected as the third shooting guard and perhaps seventh wing on a roster loaded with known commodities.
There’s Jamal Crawford, the incumbent Sixth Man of the Year, and J.J. Redick, the starter and ace 3-point shooter. There’s Matt Barnes and Jared Dudley and Reggie Bullock.
In a way, the situation Wilcox has entered into as a professional mirrors his arrival in Seattle at the University of Washington in 2009. Back then six wings were ahead of him on the Huskies’ depth chart, including Quincy Pondexter, Abdul Gaddy and Justin Holiday.
“When I got to UW, there were like six guards ahead of me at that time, so I had to kind of figure my way out and work my way into the rotation,” Wilcox said. “I think being in that situation helped me prepare for a situation like this. So, I’m going to take it as a challenge and work hard and try to squeeze my way in.”
He worked his way into the rotation a year later and was a Pac-10 All-Freshman team member as a redshirt in 2009-10. By the time he was a senior, Wilcox led the Huskies in scoring and set the school record for career 3-pointers. While it was a difficult process, going from the second ranked high school player in the state of Utah in 2008-09 to watching games from behind the bench, it was something that helped make Wilcox who he is today.
“You’re dominant in high school and then you have to go and you’re the seventh wing that’s there [in college],” Wilcox said. “That was kind of eye-opening. I also think I took it as part of the process and continued to work hard and knew my time would come later on.”
There are no guaranteed graduates after four years, though, in the NBA. But that doesn’t mean Clippers head coach Doc Rivers thinks Wilcox will spend time languishing on the bench. He will compete for playing time throughout the summer and when camp opens in October.
“Obviously, we have a whole summer, so we’ll see how that all shakes out,” Rivers said when asked about the glut of shooting guards ahead of Wilcox on the Clippers’ roster. “But once camp starts, you just go and compete. That’s what makes our league so neat. Once the contracts and everybody is signed, then it’s who plays the best. You just see that, at least from a coaching standpoint.
“For C.J., he has two really good guys to be taught under. Learning the stuff from Jamal and how he scores and then learning the way J.J. moves without the ball, if you can combine those two guys into your game then playing time will probably not be a problem.”
Wilcox knows Crawford from playing against him in some open runs in Seattle, Crawford’s hometown and knows that Redick may be a valuable player to mirror. Wilcox and Redick have been favorably compared to the league’s all-time 3-point leader and Rivers’ former shooting guard Ray Allen, especially in their ability to come off screens and move without the ball.
“I’m going to work out with him as much as possible so he can show me what works in the NBA and what doesn’t,” Wilcox said of Redick. “I’ll do it with most players. I’ll try to take most from other guys as possible, but that’s what he does and I think that’s going to be my similar role. So, working out with him will help me prepare best.”
All of that preparation starts immediately for Wilcox, even if it all seems a little familiar.