- The Washington Times - Wednesday, April 10, 2002

Chris Wilcox's mother said she and her son have not yet decided whether the Maryland sophomore will enter the NBA Draft but said they remain "open-minded" as they gather information.
"Chris hasn't said he is going anywhere," Debra Brown said yesterday afternoon. "He is thinking about a lot of things. He's under a lot of pressure right now. No decision has been made. Once [Maryland coach Gary Williams] says what's what, he can see what he needs to do. He wants Gary's opinion on everything that's going on. Gary is like a dad to him."
Wilcox will discuss his future with Williams on Friday.
There is speculation the 19-year-old will forgo his final two seasons at Maryland. The 6-foot-10 power forward had been at his North Carolina home since last Wednesday but reportedly returned to College Park last night. Wilcox missed a week of school while pondering his decision, but his mother said he would be back in classes today. College underclassmen have until May12 to declare for the draft.
"Nothing has changed," said Williams, who was clearly upset by the media frenzy as he sat in his office yesterday afternoon. A week ago, the coach of the national champions said he believed Wilcox would return. Yesterday, he reiterated his earlier statement but sounded less optimistic. "I want Chris to be part of our team next year," he said.
Wilcox's NBA stock rose steadily throughout the season and soared during a stellar NCAA tournament run in which he outplayed Kansas All-American Drew Gooden in the national semifinals. Wilcox has been projected as a lottery selection, and several experts forecast him in the top 10. He said last month that if he is projected to be taken in the lottery (the top 13 picks) he likely would jump to the NBA.
Williams has had contact with Wilcox and is convinced a decision has not been reached. The coach has talked to NBA general managers to gauge where Wilcox might be taken and will pass that information to Wilcox. Though Williams wouldn't discuss his findings, he said he hasn't changed his view that Wilcox would be better off basketball-wise and financially if he returns.
"He has a chance to be player of the year next year," said Williams, who feels Wilcox would be a top-five pick in 2003 if he returns. "I tell guys what they should do. It's not always what they want to hear. We dealt with [leaving early] before with Steve Francis and Joe Smith. I told Joe Smith to go because he would be a top pick [No. 1 in the 1995]. You have to make sure you listen to people who have your best interest in mind."
The NBA slots its pay scale for players the first three years of their careers. The top pick in the upcoming draft will earn $3.2million next season and is guaranteed $10.4million over three seasons. After that, there is a sliding scale depending on draft position. The 13th selection will get $1.2million his first season as part of a guaranteed three-year, $3.9million deal. There also are league-imposed limits on pay increases for fourth- and fifth-year players before they become unlimited free agents.
"There's a big difference between Number 1 and Number 13," Williams said. "And if you are not in the top 13, you don't make enough to be financially set for life. You have to figure in taxes and other things."
The draft will be even more clouded before the entry deadline because there will be an influx of foreign players, high schoolers and college underclassmen who decide to come out. Indiana's Jared Jeffries, Virginia's Roger Mason Jr. and Missouri's Kareem Rush have said they will declare for the draft. Gooden is also expected to jump, and that could affect Wilcox's draft position.
Wilcox could test the NBA's interest by declaring for the draft while not signing with an agent. That would allow him to attend June's predraft camp in Chicago and work out privately for teams with the option of returning to Maryland if he withdraws his name a week before the June26 draft.
"We'll hear what Chris has to say and talk to Gary," said Brown, who will be in town for the team banquet tomorrow night. "I trust coach Williams, and I believe what he has to say. He's a good man."
Note
The Terps will add another forward to next season's roster when junior college standout Jamar Smith signs an letter of intent as early as today, according to several sources close to the team. Smith, at 6-9, 220 pounds, led Allegany College to the Maryland junior college championship by averaging 17.3 points and 12.2 rebounds.
Smith will be the third player in recent years to go from the Cumberland school to College Park, following Francis and current center Ryan Randle. Smith has been described as a slighter version of Wilcox without the explosive leaping ability but with a better jump shot. He was named the Maryland junior college tournament MVP. The Sicklerville, N.J., native led Allegany to a No.8 ranking in the final national junior college poll.
"He has major college talent and the potential to be an NBA player," said Hagerstown College coach Jim Brown, whose team lost the Maryland tournament championship game to Allegany in overtime. "He's big, fast and strong and loves to win. Even when he had trouble scoring in the championship game, he came out of nowhere to block a layup and force overtime."
Smith, Maryland's fifth recruit, will battle for the open starting spot at small forward. The other four all incoming freshmen will compete in the Capital Classic tomorrow at MCI Center. Power forward Travis Garrison, a 6-10 McDonald's All-American from DeMatha High School, and 6-2 point guard John Gilchrist, from Virginia Beach, will play in the 8:30 p.m. showcase game. Chris McCray, a 6-4 shooting guard from Fairmont Heights High School, and 6-7 forward Nik Caner-Medley, from Portland, Maine, will participate in the preliminary Capital Classic game at 6:30.


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