Terps' Wilcox stars from inside out

Sophomore forward opens eyes in scrimmage with long-range touch

College Basketball

October 21, 2001|By Gary Lambrecht | Gary Lambrecht,SUN STAFF

COLLEGE PARK - Sophomore forward Chris Wilcox is well-known for his ability to dunk. He is considered the best pure athlete on the men's basketball team at the University of Maryland.

Yesterday, in the team's annual Red-Black scrimmage that concluded the first week of practice, Wilcox, 6 feet 9, showed several hundred observers at Cole Field House that he also has been working on his outside shot.

The Red team won both halves of the scrimmage, partly because Wilcox dominated inside for much of the exercise, and also because he contributed two three-point baskets in the second half.

Wilcox, who figures to challenge junior Tahj Holden for the starting job at power forward, looked like a guy intent on earning some playing time at small forward.

"I have to have an outside game as well as any inside game," said Wilcox, a former high school center who could spell senior Lonny Baxter at that position. He worked on establishing an outside shot over the summer.

"Most of the time, I like to go down low and bang around a little bit. But I'm showing my outside game now."

Terps coach Gary Williams downplayed Wilcox's moments away from the basket.

"That's not what makes him good. What makes him good is what he did the rest of the time today," Williams said. "He's just one of those special guys inside. ... You forget that he's just a sophomore."

Wilcox, guarded by Holden, recorded two dunks early, after catching good passes from senior Juan Dixon. He later slammed home an offensive rebound to help the Red team win the first half, 46-38.

In the second half, the Red team consisted of Wilcox and projected starters Steve Blake, Dixon, Byron Mouton and Baxter. Wilcox made two three-pointers to fuel a 22-4 run that pushed his team to a 39-22 lead.

Williams then shuffled the teams, putting Baxter and Dixon on the Black squad, which rallied to take a 45-44 lead. Blake made a 25-footer just before time expired to give the Red Team a 47-45 victory.

Freshman point guard Andre Collins, who squares off against Blake in practice, matched up against the junior yesterday in a spirited battle until cramps forced Collins to sit out much of the second half.

"He's got a lot to learn, but he's doing well," said Blake, going into his third season as a starter. "He's small [5-9] and quick. A lot of guys like that can be tough to play against. He's helping me get better, and I'm trying to help him get better."

Said Collins: "I'm going to push Blake. He might be the best point guard I've ever played against."

Collins, who came to Maryland after spending a year at Hargrave Military Academy in southern Virginia, has walked into a crowded point guard picture. John Gilchrist is expected to sign a letter of intent with Maryland next month, meaning the Terps could have three point guards when they open next season at the Comcast Center.

"It doesn't bother me at all," Collins said. "When Blake is gone, I've still got to work to get a starting job. ... You can always use that extra push. I don't feel as if I went wrong at all with my decision."

NOTES: Near the end of the second half, Blake got frustrated with a stretch of ineffective play and kicked a ball high into the stands at Cole. "I just felt like kicking the ball. Is that all right with you?" he said. ... Dixon was his typical self yesterday, making three-pointers and driving to the basket aggressively. He also showed some improvement in his ball-handling.

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