CJ Wilcox created a game for himself as a kid. He called it “Mental Game.”
Before or after school, he would pick five spots on the floor to master that day, either from midrange or three, or both. Wilcox challenged himself to make a certain number of shots in a row at each spot, often seven, before he could move on to the next spot.
“Say he made seven in a row. [At the next spot] he’d make six and he’d miss the seventh, he’d have to start over,” said Randy McAllister, Wilcox’ former coach at Pleasant Grove High School in Utah.
“I mean it was just agonizing to watch sometimes, but he would just keep going until he finished.”
Wilcox looked like he was playing a round of “Mental Game” against No. 15 Colorado last Sunday, draining shots with a confidence that comes from hours of correcting misses. The senior torched the Buffs with career-highs of 7 threes for 31 points in Washington’s 71-54 upset, topping his previous high of 30 points set earlier this season against Boston College.
Wilcox racked up points in a variety of ways: catching and shooting from the corner; stealing the ball and pushing it down court for the easy bucket; toying with his defender off the dribble before pulling up for the trey.
Wilcox is taking what the defense is giving him, having quietly developed other parts of his offensive toolbox over the last few seasons.
There’s no doubt that Wilcox has one of the purest strokes in the Pac-12. He’s currently second in the conference in scoring with a 19.7 point average on 41.5 percent shooting from long distance. But he’s getting to the line more frequently this season than in the past.
Six games into conference play and Wilcox has already attempted 72 free throws. He attempted a total of 114 free throws last season as a junior, and attempted 93 free throws as a sophomore.
“The last couple of years I’ve taken it upon myself to try to be more of a playmaker,” Wilcox said. “Be more than just a shooter and try to be more of a complete scorer.
“Every year I’ve worked on getting to the midrange more, getting to the lane a little bit more. Just having more of an aggressive mindset instead of just standing out there and shooting, I think has helped me be able to score in a couple different ways.” (READ MORE.)