Isaiah Hicks Should Play and Shoot More With Meeks Out


With Kennedy Meeks out, Isaiah Hicks should get a chance to play and shoot more. Here’s why that is a good thing for the Tar Heel offense.

Three weeks ago, I wrote a long piece detailing why Isaiah Hicks needs to play and shoot more. It looks like Hicks will finally get a chance to start and get extended minutes now that Kennedy Meeks is out for two weeks. This is a good thing for the Tar Heel offense, because Hicks is such a dominant force on that end, and more minutes for Hicks = more shots from Hicks = more good results for the Tar Heel offense.

Why do I like Hicks so much? Because the numbers like Hicks so much.

Isaiah Hicks ranks 10th in offensive rating among all college basketball players, per That’s really good! But why isn’t Hicks leading the Tar Heels in points, then? If he ranks 7th on the team in points per game, how can he have the highest offensive rating? Because, inconceivably, Isaiah Hicks also ranks 10th on the Tar Heels in percentage of shots taken* while on the floor. Only Theo Pinson takes a lower percentage of shots while on the court than Isaiah Hicks.

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Hicks has the highest field goal percentage on the team (63.2%), yet ranks seventh in field goals attempted with just 38. The team high for field goals attempted is Justin Jackson with 96. To put it in the simplest of terms, Hicks does good things when he gets the basketball, he just doesn’t get the basketball enough.

Hicks does everything well offensively. He gets to the line on offense, leading the team in fouls drawn per 40 minutes, per He is efficient, with a team-high true shooting percentage of 68.6%. He doesn’t turn the ball over, having committed just four all season. He attacks the offensive glass, having collected 13 offensive boards this season, good for fourth on the team. Also, he gets extra baskets all by himself from those offensive rebounds: per, Isaiah Hicks has five putback** attempts and has made 100% of those shots.

Basically, Hicks is a one-man wrecking crew on offense, but for a variety of reasons, Hicks just isn’t taking that many shots compared to his teammates.

Clearing Kennedy Meeks out of the equation should give Hicks a chance to shine offensively. The big issue with starting Hicks and Johnson together, though, is the defense…

Yes, that’s a small sample size from one game, but I think the notion that Isaiah Hicks is a minus defender is a fair one.

Also, the potential Johnson Hicks front line that fans are clamoring for has the worst efficiency margin out of any of the four most used lineup combos that the Heels have employed this season…

I would still start the Hicks-Johnson front line because I like what Hicks brings on the offense end and hope that he would play well enough on defense to stay out there.

Regardless of who head basketball coach Roy Williams decides to start, Hicks should get a chance to play and shoot more while Meeks is out. This is a good thing for the Tar Heel offense. As for the defense, fans will see how Hicks holds up in extended minutes on Wednesday night, or fans may get a heavier dose of Joel James than they might want.

* Definition from — “This is the percentage of a team’s shots taken, while the player is on the court. This is a pretty good proxy for %Poss, and significantly easier to calculate. It is PlayerFGA / (%Min * TeamFGA).”

** Definition from — “Putback attempts are shots taken by a player within four seconds of getting an offensive rebound.”