- The Washington Times - Sunday, December 30, 2001

Before Friday's practice, Maryland basketball coach Gary Williams set the record straight on the upbringing of super sophomore Chris Wilcox.
Wilcox did not grow up in Raleigh, N.C., as many were led to believe when he first rolled into College Park last year, but tiny Whiteville, N.C. about 45 minutes west of Wilmington.
The 6-foot-10 Wilcox transferred to Raleigh's Enloe High School from Whiteville High for his senior year and led his team to the state tournament. Nonetheless, Maryland's ACC opener tonight at N.C. State in Raleigh could be considered a homecoming of sorts for Wilcox,
Wilcox, who oozes NBA potential, would like to make a serious statement against the Wolfpack (10-2). Wilcox, who is No. 8 Maryland's (9-2) third-leading scorer at 10.1 and second-leading rebounder at 7.6, is all too familiar with the Wolfpack.
"A lot of my friends play for N.C. State, and I'm just ready to go down there and play hard and see who wins," Wilcox said. "Last year I really didn't get a chance to play against them, so this year should be a great experience."
Last season at N.C. State, Wilcox played just three minutes and had two fouls. Tonight's game should be much different. Maryland's leaping machine is averaging 23 minutes as one of the team's many weapons.
Considering the Wolfpack's youth and inexperience inside, Wilcox should be able to operate freely on the baseline. The Wolfpack start 6-8 sophomore Marcus Melvin N.C. State's second-leading scorer at 11.7 and 6-9, 210-pound freshman Josh Powell inside. Lonny Baxter, Maryland's muscular 6-8, 260-pound center, should have his way inside as well.
"Everybody says they are a young team their inside players are young but their four guards [Scooter] Sherrill, [Clifford] Crawford, [Archie] Miller and [Anthony] Grundy are very experienced," Williams said. "They have as much experience in the backcourt as any team in the league. I would like to get rid of that perception that they are a very young team."
With so many guards, the Wolfpack's situation at the point is by committee. Miller, who is a fifth-year senior, and Crawford share most of the duties although the 6-3 Grundy N.C. State's leading scorer at 14.3 also will play some point.
However, freshman guard Julius Hodge actually might be the Wolfpack's key man. The 6-6 Hodge, who was ranked in the top 10 nationally coming out of New York's St. Raymonds High last season, can do just about everything dribble, pass and shoot. According to Williams, you can believe the hype about Hodge, a McDonald's All-American who also was recruited by Maryland.
Hodge is averaging 10.4 points and is an 81.6 percent free throw shooter.
"He's having a very solid freshman year," Williams said. "He gives them 6-6 size. … He's a very quick player at either small forward or third guard, whatever you call that position. It's hard to come into the league and score, especially with a couple veteran players."
For Maryland, this is the first step in what should be a run at the ACC regular-season title. The last time the Terps won it was 1994-95, when they were co-champions.
Maryland's players have been eagerly waiting for conference play to begin. Most importantly, the team gets back to normality by playing two and three games a week without extended breaks or the back-to-back games that are so prevalent during the non-conference portion of the schedule.
The Terps feel they are ready and believe their challenging non-conference schedule has them fully prepared for the upcoming ACC wars.
"We've been playing some tough non-conference games [No. 7 Illinois, No. 12 Oklahoma, No. 14 Arizona, Temple, Princeton and Connecticut], a lot of tough teams," Baxter said. "Now we're into the ACC getting ready to play N.C. State, and we'll see how well we've prepared to get ready for this."

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