UNC Basketball: Will Isaiah Hicks be better in 2014-15?


With a breakout performance in both exhibition games held in the Bahamas, and a return to his natural position at power forward, all signs point to Isaiah Hicks making a big impact for North Carolina in the 2014-2015 season. After a disappointing freshman season that failed to live up to the hype created by his high school stats, Hicks looks to bounce back and improve his game going into his sophomore year.

Brice Johnson, who is poised to start this season, only saw 7 minutes of playing time in both exhibition games due to an ankle sprain, which left Hicks to sub in early on. In both games, Hicks led the team in scoring. He put up 11 points against the Providence Storm and 19 against the Bahamas All Stars. Hicks’ performance in the Bahamas’ exhibition games proves not only his value coming off the bench, but also that he is ready to bounce back from last season.

“Hicks’ performance in the Bahamas’ exhibition games proves not only his value coming off the bench, but also that he is ready to bounce back from a somewhat disappointing freshman season.”

With the departure of James Michael McAdoo and the addition of freshman wings Justin Jackson and Theo Pinson, Hicks can finally move back to his natural position at power forward. As a freshman, Hicks was forced to play small forward and averaged 7.3 minutes a game, yet said he was not bothered by the change in his position. He should expect to see more playing time this season as he will most likely be the first off the bench to replace Johnson.

Despite the hype surrounding him coming out of high school, Hicks’ freshman stat line was disappointing. Of last year’s roster, Hicks ranked among the lowest in points scored throughout the season with 42. Also, his 1.2 points per game placed him last among the 24 McDonald’s All Americans in his recruiting class. Furthermore, his recorded 12 blocks and 35 rebounds total.

Although he did not live up to his defensive potential as a freshman, Hicks looks to bounce back and prove himself as a dynamic aspect to the Heels’ roster as a sophomore. He has the skills necessary to develop into a key defensive player, especially due to his ability to block and rebound. As a senior in high school, Hicks averaged 5.6 blocks per game and contributed 7 blocked shots in his dominant performance in the 3-A state title game. Hicks also averaged 12.9 rebounds a game in high school and continued on to set the 3-A state title game record for rebounds with 30. In setting the North Carolina state record, Hicks’ joined now Cleveland Cavaliers forward Kevin Love to become the second player to record 30 or more rebounds in a state tournament game.

Towards the end of last season, Hicks’ defensive performance against Pitt in the ACC Tournament game led him to be named the best defender of the game. Hicks’ defensive abilities should be increasingly present this season as he earns more playing time behind Johnson in his rightful position.

With a year of experience under his belt and a reinvigorated start at his natural position, hopefully the stats we saw out of Hicks at both the exhibition games in the Bahamas are a significant preview of what is to come as he enters the upcoming 2014-2015 season. All Hicks needs is a little confidence and some more playing time so he can really start to show off the freakish athleticism that Heels fans have been waiting to see.