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Originally published Thursday, April 18, 2013 at 5:16 PM

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Guard C.J. Wilcox will return to Washington for senior season

Huskies guard C.J. Wilcox considered entering the NBA draft this year but instead will return to Washington for his senior season. Wilcox was the Huskies' leading scorer last season.

Seattle Times staff reporter

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I like it when a kid chooses to stay for the full college experience. It obviously good... MORE
Wise decision CJ. Good luck next year. MORE
Good decision! Another year of refinement under Coach Romar will make you a better player! MORE

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The picture said it all.

C.J. Wilcox posted a photo on his Instagram account of him wearing his No. 23 Washington jersey.

It was a rare moment of pure jubilation — his eyes closed, fist clenched, muscles flexed and mouth open in what looked to be some sort of primal scream.

Next to the photo Wilcox wrote: #UW.

That's how Washington's biggest men's basketball star announced his return next season for his senior year.

With the help of his family and coach Lorenzo Romar, Wilcox made the decision Wednesday afternoon. However, he wasn't ready to officially end a bid to enter the 2013 NBA draft until Thursday morning.

"It simply came down to this: He wants to play a full year healthy," said Wilcox's father, Craig. "The more we looked at it we said, if he was able to practice and keep his rhythm, I think he would have stayed around 20 points a game even with all the focus on him.

"So we said, let's go back. Coach Romar has a great history with having seniors have great years. With that and with having a full year being healthy, he can definitely erase a lot of the questions that are out there about him."

Concerns about Wilcox's durability popped up last season when a foot injury hampered him in the final two months. He never sat out of games, but it was the second straight season he suffered a non-contact injury that forced him to miss significant time in practice.

His pro potential came in doubt in a draft evaluation from the NBA Undergraduate Advisory Committee, which consists of general managers and player personnel executives.

Wilcox received feedback from 20 of the 30 teams. More than a half-dozen teams projected he would be taken late in the first round or early in the second round. However, the consensus projected Wilcox would land in the middle of the second round, where picks aren't guaranteed contracts.

"It was definitely one of the hardest decisions I made," Wilcox said in comments released by UW. "There was a lot of information that goes into the whole process. You are getting a lot of different information from agents. Some were saying I should go, others were saying I should come back to school. ... There was a lot of different information.

"I definitely went back and forth. At the end of the day I decided it was best to come back."

Wilcox, a three-star prospect from Pleasant Grove, Utah, never envisioned he'd have to make an NBA decision at this point in college career.

He and his father hatched a plan that had him redshirt the 2009-10 season so he could reap the benefits of a fifth year at Washington.

"At the end of the day we went back and wanted to finish what we started," Wilcox said.

Losing Wilcox would have been a major blow to Washington, which finished sixth in the Pac-12 and was 18-16 last season.

His return offsets the loss of three seniors who were among the top four scorers last season.

It's too early to project if the Huskies are a legitimate conference title contender, but Wilcox, a second-team all-Pac-12 pick last season, gives them an identity.

The 6-foot-5, 185-pound shooting guard led Washington in scoring (16.8), minutes (34.8) and steals (37). He was second with 35 blocks and third with 65 assists.

Romar said Wilcox should earn preseason All-America candidate consideration. At the very least, he'll begin the 2013-14 season as a Pac-12 MVP candidate.

"You know for sure you have a go-to guy," Romar said. "You start and that question gets asked from the beginning of the year. Well we know from the outset C.J. is a guy that's going to provide scoring for us. There's no doubt about that."

Washington brings in four guards, including McDonald's All-American Nigel Williams-Goss, to add depth to the backcourt. Romar wants to reduce Wilcox's minutes while adding to his responsibilities.

"We will see his role being an all-around basketball player that won't just be the guy that is receiving the ball to make shots, but also a guy that's distributing the ball," Romar said. "I don't mean he's going to become the point guard, but he'll be out on the floor making more decisions with that basketball in his hands.

"We'll be dependent on him a lot."

Notes

• After one season at Washington, assistant Lamont Smith is leaving to take a similar coaching job at New Mexico. Romar said he doesn't expect any additions to his staff that includes assistants Paul Fortier, Jim Shaw and Brad Jackson. Fortier, who had been the director of player personnel, will assume Smith's responsibilities.

Percy Allen: 206-464-2278 or pallen@seattletimes.com. On Twitter @percyallen.


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