College basketball player Cody Wilcox isn’t going to wow anybody with acrobatic plays or high-flying dunks, but where he wins over coaches and players alike is with his passion and persistence.
“I’m a guy who will do whatever the coach needs me to do.” Wilcox said. “I’m not a glamour player. I can’t do any fancy dunks or anything, but I bring consistency, I’ll get you rebounds, I’ll work hard, I can pass from the high post and I can knock down the three if you need me to. I do a little bit of everything.”
Wilcox, a Nevada Union graduate, recently accepted a scholarship offer to attend and play basketball at William Jessup University in Rocklin.
In 2011, Wilcox averaged seven points and five rebounds while playing center for the Nevada Union basketball team. He put up similar numbers while competing for the Sierra College team.
But, Wilcox’s game isn’t measured in numbers, it is measured in heart.
After graduating from Nevada Union, the 6-foot, 7-pound, then 265 pound post player wavered on the future of his basketball career.
“I was thinking of trying out (for the Sierra College team), but I wasn’t 100 percent sure,” Wilcox said. “Then I met a guy named Kermit Young, and he got me in touch with coach (John) Fusano, and he said I could join the team as a grey shirt. It was a stroke of luck.”
A grey shirt is when a player takes less than 12 units at an educational institution so as not to lose a year of eligibility.
Sierra College head coach John Fusano said, Wilcox showed up the first day out of shape and wearing Birkenstock.
“He came in at 6-7, 265 pounds and a little tubby,” Fusano said.
But it didn’t take long for Wilcox to win over the coach and the team.
Fusano touted Wilcox’s ability to rebound, play defense and pass from the post.
“He really worked his butt off in his grey shirt year,” Fusano said. “He was great in the summer and fall. He was going to be a starter, and just before our first game he blew out his knee on a freak accident.”
Wilcox had dropped 30 pounds in his grey shirt year and had earned a substantial role on the team, but in the last practice before the start of the season, he tore his posterior cruciate ligament. After sitting out a year as a grey shirt, he was facing another year off the court, rehabbing his injury.
“When it happened, it was just like burning and just shock that it happened.” Wilcox said. “I knew it was bad, and it wasn’t even about the pain. At that point I knew I wasn’t going to play in the first game and I had worked so hard. It felt like I wasn’t going to get the fruit from my labors.”
Wilcox spent the next year rehabbing his knee. By the time Wilcox was back to playing shape it had been three years since he played in an actual game for a school team.
When it was time to suit up for the first time in a Sierra College uniform, Wilcox said there was some butterflies, but the Sierra College coaching staff did a good job of getting him healthy and prepared.
“There were definitely butterflies,” he said. “We were playing Fresno, and they had a strong team, but I got the first bucket and then I was fine.”
Wilcox went on to average five points and six rebounds while starting nearly half of Sierra College’s games last season.
Wilcox’s resolve and perseverance was nothing short of amazing, said Fusano.
“I haven’t seen anything like it,” Fusano said. “It was the worst injury I’ve ever seen. Just with the grey shirt and all the work he had put in.”
Wilcox’s work wasn’t lost on the coaching staff at William Jessup and they offered the undersized center with an oversized work ethic a scholarship to play with the Warriors.
Wilcox, who was recruited by several schools, said William Jessup was a great fit for him, his family and his educational needs.
“I really like the proximity to my family,” he said. “Family is really important to me and it was a good opportunity to get most of my college paid for, play and I really like the atmosphere and coaching staff at William Jessup. They are going in a really good direction. Faith is also really important to me so it was an opportunity for me to go through a period in my life around some good good people. For me it was about more than basketball.”
Fusano said he has no doubt that Wilcox will thrive on and off the court at William Jessup.
“William Jessup has a quality player in Cody, and if they put some scorers around him – look out.”
To contact Sports Editor Walter Ford, call 530-477-4232 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.