When he left our program, it's not like you say, 'Hey, there goes an NBA player,' but with his work ethic, he just continued to grow and grow until he became one. It speaks to his work ethic, character and determination. —Randy McCallister, on CJ Wilcox
PLEASANT GROVE — CJ Wilcox wasn't sure he deserved it, but as far as his former coach Randy McCallister was concerned, the honor was way overdue.
Wilcox, who starred for the Vikings from 2005-2009, had his No. 23 jersey retired at halftime of Pleasant Grove's game against Riverton on Friday. A rare honor few prep athletes achieve, but few were able to reach the heights Wilcox has both during and after his high school career.
"It's the first time it's happened in 100 years here at Pleasant Grove, but there's no question CJ deserves it," McCallister said. "It's something we've wanted to do for a while, but wanted to do it in our new gym that was finished before this season."
Wilcox was a star for the Vikings in all four of his years and improved every season. He rose to become a highly-recruited prospect before signing with Washington, where he became the second-leading scorer in school history.
After his collegiate career, Wilcox was drafted No. 28 overall by the Los Angeles Clippers in the 2014 NBA draft.
"When he left our program, it's not like you say, 'Hey, there goes an NBA player,' but with his work ethic, he just continued to grow and grow until he became one," McCallister said. "It speaks to his work ethic, character and determination."
Indeed, work ethic was the main theme Wilcox imparted to McCallister's team just before it took the court against the Silverwolves.
"It's all about hard work. That's the biggest thing," Wilcox said. "I wasn't born to be a basketball player, but it's something I decided to do. I worked hard at it and it paid off."
During McCallister's halftime speech, he reflected on Wilcox's tendency to spend time working at the gym while others preferred to relax and take some time off.
"He was working on his basketball skills while other kids were out playing," McCallister said. "When he got to college he did the same thing...and when he left college he was drafted in the first round. He was the 28th best player in the world on the day of that draft."
Wilcox was humbled by all the praise thrown his way, not expecting such an honor to ever come.
"It's a surprise and I'm not sure I deserve it because it is such a huge honor," Wilcox said. "Just seeing the case with my number — it's surreal. What stands out to me about my time here is the relationships I built. I made friends I'm close with to this day and that's a special thing. Also, all the work I put in to get to where I'm at. It all started here."
Wilcox currently plays for the Canton Charge, the D-League team for the Clippers, with an eye set on eventually making a place for himself in Los Angeles.
As far as McCallister is concerned, it's not a matter of if, but when Wilcox graduates from the developmental league to make a name for himself at the NBA level.
"He's determined to get to the NBA and there's no doubt he'll become a great NBA player," McCallister said.