As a redshirt senior, C.J. Wilcox averaged 18.5 points per game and made 87 percent of his free throws. The guard became the University of Washington’s second all-time leading scorer while shooting 46 percent from the field and nearly 40 percent from 3-point range. He was the focus of every defense.
It wasn’t enough to earn him a selection to the 2013-14 All-Pac-12 team.
“Very mind-boggling how he couldn’t be on the first team. I don’t understand that one,” UW coach Lorenzo Romar said Monday. “That’s not the first time I haven’t understood the end-of-season awards. That’s no slight on those who were on the first team. I just think that’s a no-brainer that C.J. Wilcox should be on the first team.”
After splitting their final homestand last week with a loss to UCLA and a win over USC, the Huskies finished the regular season 17-14 (9-9 Pac-12) and are seeded ninth in the conference. Was a low finish the reason Wilcox was left off the 10-man team?
“We could say that . . . he deserves to be on the first-team. It’s that simple,” Romar said.
Wilcox wasn’t altogether forgotten. He did make the second team for the second year in a row. As a sophomore, he made honorable mention. In 2010-11, he was named to the All-Freshman team. All are voted on by coaches, with the stipulation that none are allowed to choose their own players.
“Not what I was expecting, but it’s not in my control, so I have to look ahead and get ready for Vegas,” Wilcox said of his latest honor. “I’m not losing sleep over it. Like I said, it’s out of my control, and I’m just going to keep continuing what I do best.”
UW guard Nigel Williams-Goss, named Monday to the All-Freshman team, took a similar stance as his teammate and coach.
“Being C.J.’s teammate, I think there’s no question he’s one of the best players in our conference,” Williams-Goss said. “I believe that he should have made first team, but, again, he has no control over that.”
Wilcox said he first saw the news on social media, then admitted the slight could serve as a motivator when the nine-seed Huskies play eight-seed Utah (20-10, 9-9) in the first round of the Pac-12 tournament Wednesday (12:06 p.m., Pac-12 Networks) in Las Vegas at the MGM Grand Garden Arena.
“I guess that can add to it . . . I wasn’t surprised. I’m never surprised with what happens. I just saw on Twitter. It got mentioned a lot. It is what it is,” Wilcox said.
The Huskies split their season series with Utah, each team winning at home. UW needs four wins in as many days to capture the Pac-12 tournament championship and earn the conference’s automatic bid to the NCAA tournament. Anything else probably gets them an invitation to the NIT.
In 2012, Colorado became the first and only team to capture the tournament by winning four games in four days.
If the Huskies beat the Utes Wednesday, they play at noon Thursday against 28-3 Arizona, ranked No. 4 in the AP Top 25 and the USA Today Coaches Poll.
When Arizona was ranked No. 1, the Huskies hung with the Wildcats Jan. 4 at McHale Center in Tucson but UW faltered late and lost 71-62.
“(There’s) very little margin for error. We have to come out with just a great focus and a great togetherness,” Romar said. “I think other things will take care of themselves. We can’t talk about how many points we have to score, we have to out-rebound this team — If we can do those things I think other things will take care of themselves.”
Is UW ready for the challenge?
The Huskies’ longest winning streak of the season is three.