Hard work takes Wilcox from tobacco fields to Garden


Hard work takes Wilcox from tobacco fields to Garden

Chris Wilcox isnt afraid of hard work.

Growing up in Whiteville, North Carolina, it was the only option.

I worked in the fields and did everything, Wilcox told CSNNE.com. Im a country boy. I picked tobacco. We had dogs chasing hogs back. We had everything. You name it, I did it.

The Boston Celtics power forward was raised in a family with a strong work ethic. His mother, Debra Brown, was as a corrections officer and worked in the prisons for nearly 30 years and his father, Raymond Wilcox, recently retired from his job at a federal penitentiary.

I knew how to work for mine, he said. I never wanted something to be given because I always could work for it.

Wilcox began working when he was around 11 years old. Before he was pulling down rebounds, he was hanging tobacco. Before he was protecting the paint, he was protecting himself from animals he encountered in the barns.

I was in the country, so it wasnt even a town, Wilcox said. Tobacco fields and all that all the way around. Everywhere around me, it was all farm land. You could easily get work. The main thing in North Carolina was tobacco. School wouldnt even be in yet if the tobacco wasnt out of the fields, they would push school back.

I picked tobacco. I hung tobacco in the barn. In tobacco fields, a tobacco barn isnt anything but a barn in the middle of the field thats just been sitting there. So when you open the door, you could see anything in there. If you saw a snake you had to kill it, but I never messed around with snakes. Thats when you get the big rats, everything.

In addition to working with tobacco, Wilcox and his friends asked neighbors if they needed their lawns cut or other odd jobs done around their homes and on their land.

We used to have dogs in the neighborhood to chase the pigs back when they get out, he said. Theyd give us five dollars if you bring your dog up there and chase the hogs back into the pen. Im deep down in the country.

One of Wilcoxs earliest jobs involved going around to local schools, helping to barrel old milk, and then pouring it into buckets to feed the pigs. It wasnt glamorous -- and it didnt always smell great -- but it was how he and his friends spent many of their days growing up.

Everybody in the neighborhood, we would work, he said. Anything we could do in the neighborhood, thats what we did.

This season Wilcox is looking to work as hard in Boston as he did back in Whiteville. After suffering a shoulder injury, he is looking to turn around a slow start. He is averaging just 2.4 rebounds per game -- the least since his rookie year -- and a career-low 1.4 points per game off the Celtics bench.

But the big man who learned to drive on his uncles tractor is driven to succeed. He returns to his hometown every summer, remembers where he came from, and tells himself to keep going further.

It showed me what Ive been through and that nothing is ever given to you, Wilcox said. When times get rough, I just look back.

UConn falls to Central Florida, 24-16


UConn falls to Central Florida, 24-16

EAST HARTFORD, Conn. -McKenzie Milton threw for a season-high 317 yards and three touchdowns to lead Central Florida to a 24-16 win over UConn.

The freshman completed 29 of 45 passes and the Knights (4-3, 2-1 American) moved over the .500 mark by scoring 17 unanswered points and holding the Huskies (3-5, 1-4) scoreless in the second half.

Arkeel Newsome ran 21 times for 101 yards and Noel Thomas had his fifth straight 100-yard receiving game for UConn, catching nine passes for 165 yards.

But Thomas dropped a pass in the end zone on a third down with just over 3 minutes remaining, and quarterback Bryant Shirreffs came up short on a fourth-down scramble.

The Huskies got the ball back near midfield with just over 2 minutes left and drove to the 21, but failed to convert a fourth-down pass.

The Knights took the lead on the first drive of the second half, when Milton hit running back Adrian Killins over the middle for a 39-yard touchdown. It was the third consecutive drive of more than 70 yards for UCF.

A career-long 50-yard field goal by Matthew Wright early in the fourth quarter pushed the lead to eight points.

UConn scored the game's first 13 points, capped by a 3-yard touchdown run from Newsome.

The Huskies final points came on a 35-yard Puyol field goal, one of three he kicked in the first half.

The lead was the first at halftime this season for the Huskies.


UCF: The Knights have apparently found their quarterback in the freshman Milton, who started again over senior Justin Holman. It was Milton's fourth start this season. His 317 yards passing were the most since Holman threw for 336 yards against Temple in 2014.

UConn: The Huskies have two offensive weapons in Newsome and Thomas and need to find a third. Shirreffs was again the team's second leading rusher with 49 yards. Alec Bloom was the team's second-leading receiver. He had two catches for 20 yards.


UCF: The Knights visit No. 11 Houston next Saturday

UConn: The Huskies travel south to face East Carolina.

© 2016 by STATS & The Associated Press

Still wait-and-see on Smart's status for Celtics' opener


Still wait-and-see on Smart's status for Celtics' opener

BOSTON – Marcus Smart’s sprained left ankle injury continues to heal, but the Celtics remain in wait-and-see mode when it comes to his availability for the season opener on Wednesday against Brooklyn.
Smart sprained the ankle in the second quarter of a 121-96 preseason loss to the New York Knicks when he stepped on the foot of Knicks guard Justin Holliday.
He was helped off the floor by teammates Avery Bradley and Isaiah Thomas along with head trainer Ed Lacerte.
Since the injury, the Celtics have been pleased with the healing progress of the ankle, the same ankle he sprained as a rookie which kept him out for several weeks.
Celtics coach Brad Stevens said Smart is no longer in a walking boot and continues to be day-to-day as he receives a steady diet of treatments to help speed up the healing process.
Smart will undergo a series of tests to determine the ankle’s strength, prior to getting any kind of clearance to play.
That’s why Stevens isn’t worried about Smart returning to the floor too soon.
“I trust our staff. Our staff and Marcus will make that decision well,” Stevens said. “Then I play guys, if they are available.”
Smart has established himself as one of the Celtics’ top reserves, with the ability to play both guard positions and some small forward depending on the lineup on the floor. The Celtics have to prepare for the possibility that he will not be able to play in the opener (or the first few games considering Boston opens with three games in four nights.

His absence would create more playing time for Terry Rozier in addition to likely resulting in extended minutes for starters such as Avery Bradley and Jae Crowder.
As eager as Smart is to get back on the floor, he and the Celtics are mindful of the big picture.
This team wants to make a deep playoff run and they’ll everyone – Smart included – to do so.
That’s why as much as Smart wants to get on the floor immediately, he has to remember – or be reminded of – that this is an 82-game season and his long-term value to this team and its goals can’t be taken for granted.