Isaiah Hicks helped the North Carolina Tar Heels win it all this season. What did he bring to the table to help the Tar Heels be so successful?
Isaiah Hicks was a senior who used his experience and drive to help the Tar Heels win a National Championship.
After struggling his freshman season, Hicks showed improvement in each of his following seasons and really took the big step from junior to senior year. Hicks opted not to test the NBA Draft waters in 2016 and it paid off for him this past season.
As a key piece to UNC’s title team, Hicks brought a lot to the table and made one of the biggest plays of the year.
Let’s take a look at the ups and down of Hick’s 2016-2017 season.
Monster Dunks and Free Throws. Isaiah Hicks was a momentum changer. Throughout the season he would sky above players and throw down a massive alley-oop.
If it wasn’t an alley-oop then he was slamming one down in transition as bigger players could not keep up with his speed. Nothing got people in the Dean Dome more pumped than a Hicks dunk.
Hicks also was reliable at the free throw line for UNC. The senior hit 113 of his 145 free throw attempts. That was good for 78 percent, which was best of all major players on the team.
Fouls. Hicks was great when he was on the floor. The problem was he struggled to stay on the floor due to foul trouble.
Isaiah Hicks averaged 3.1 fouls per game. He had at least four fouls in a game 16 times. He fouled out five times. Each of those times he gave the Tar Heels fewer minutes for him to dominate. It also cost them a reliable free throw shooter to close out games.
UNC 90, Boston College 82. There were several games to choose from here, but this game stood out. Hicks finished with just 14 points and five rebounds, albeit in just 19 minutes of play. However what stood out was the roundness of his play.
In that game, he also had four assists, two blocks, and a steal. The four assists were a career high before he dished out six in a game against Pittsburgh later in the season.
Additionally, Hicks was very efficient from the floor. He was 4-for-5 from the field and 6-of-7 from the charity stripe.
Final Four against Oregon. Isaiah Hicks had only one basket in that game. But it was a doozy.
In the first half and UNC trailing by six, Nate Britt cut into the lane with less than three minutes to go. As the defense collapsed he found a wide open Hicks who took the ball and slammed it down over three Ducks players.
That dunk was the start of a 13-4 run that turned a six-point deficit into a three point lead. It gave the Tar Heels momentum going into the half and helped turn the tide to another UNC Final Four win.
Well unfortunately for Tar Heels fans, Isaiah Hicks was a senior this past season meaning his time in the blue and white is done. However, that does not mean his career is done.
Hicks has always had an NBA game. There is a chance he gets drafted in the second round or signed as an undrafted free agent.
In a couple of years, it wouldn’t be surprising if he is surprising NBA people with his game.
Like Vince Carter and Danny Green, fans will look back and say how did we miss Isaiah Hicks at UNC.