By the numbers, Chris Wilcox isn’t one of the top 20 players in the Gary Williams era.
He probably isn’t even top 30, if you stick to the numbers.
In Wilcox’s second and best season, he averaged 12.0 points and 7.1 rebounds. Good stuff, to be sure, but not at all heady.
But tucked inside a season that saw him come off the bench 10 times in the first 11 games and ended with his early departure to the NBA (and his unforgettable order of “Don’t ask me [deleted], dawg” to a Diamondback reporter) were some truly incredible moments.
There was a 19-point, six-rebound effort against Illinois that prompted then-Illini coach Bill Self to say afterward, “Wilcox just owned us inside.”
There was a 17-point, 14-rebound night in a home defeat of Clemson that was the ultimate defense-optional game of the season.
There was a 23-point, 11-rebound performance in an upset of then-No. 1 Duke at Cole Field House.
There was a 21-point, 11-rebound outburst against Virginia in the Cole finale.
There was the 18-points, nine-rebound, four-block masterpiece against vaunted Drew Gooden and Kansas in the NCAA semifinals.
That’s not a complete list of Maryland’s most memorable victories from its national title year. But anyone coming up with an accounting of that season has to mention the Illinois drubbing, has to mention the Duke upset, has to mention Cole’s curtain call and has to mention the Final Four showdown with Kansas.
(They’d also have to mention, among other games, the Josh Howard timeout game against Wake Forest, the regional final against Connecticut and, of course, the title game against Indiana).
But of Wilcox’s great outings, most of them came when Maryland really needed perhaps the most athletic player of Williams’ tenure to come through.
Wilcox’s would have ranked higher if he’d stayed another season (though, as a lottery pick, he made the right call in bolting). He would have ranked higher if he’d averaged more than nine minutes on Maryland’s first Final Four team.
He didn’t, and as such this is an appropriate spot for someone who finished with just 554 points and 330 rebounds (averages of 7.9 and 4.7) over two seasons.
But there’s enough evidence from his one season as a starter to demonstrate he most certainly belongs on the list.