Hicks grows into Warriors’ leadership role

Mar. 13, 2013 @ 08:35 PM

When you’re 6-9, you’re going to attract a certain amount of attention.
That’s just the way it is.
But not all tall guys can play basketball as well as Webb big man Isaiah Hicks, the McDonald’s All-American who has signed a letter-of-intent to attend North Carolina next season.
Hicks added some more hardware to his collection over the weekend when he was named the most valuable player of the 3-A Eastern Regional playoffs after his Warriors from Oxford got by reigning state champ Rocky Mount.
That win put Webb in Saturday’s championship game against Statesville in N.C. State’s Reynolds Coliseum (7:30 p.m., Time Warner Cable 520).
Against Rocky Mount, Hicks had 22 points, nine rebounds and five shot blocks, putting up some of those numbers in spectacular fashion.
“Every time I think I’ve seen everything (that is) up that kid’s sleeves, he goes and does something different,” Webb coach Leo Brunelli said. “That’s a credit to his upside. I think, really, we’re scraping the surface with him.
“He is by far probably the best player I’ve coached, or will ever coach, and might quite be the finest young man I’ve ever had the opportunity to work with. I’m not talking about basketball. I’m talking about off the court, how he carries himself. He’s a genuine, good kid. ... When you have that kind of combination, he’s going to make it in life, whether it’s in basketball or whatever he does.”
Hicks is not the type to beat on his chest or pretend to rip open his shirt after dunking on somebody.
And there was that time when Hicks picked up a technical foul for yapping at a guy. He told Brunelli it wouldn’t happen again, and that was the end of it, Brunelli said.
Brunelli recalled another example of Hicks’ approach coming out after another game during the Eastern Regional in Fayetteville.
“He’s unselfish,” Brunelli said. “He cared more about, afterwards, that everyone got their order at McDonald’s on the drive back to the hotel room and no one got shorted on any french fries.
“That’s who he is.”
Brunelli said the Warriors are not a one-man show, because there were other individuals on the squad who made teams pay.
“On the other hand, what’s also very good to know is — in my brain, going every time I step on the court — I’ve got the best player out there,” Brunelli said of Hicks.
Hicks and fellow Warriors senior Bryan Smith have been terrific leaders, making sure horseplay was kept at a minimum so Webb’s coaches could do their jobs, Brunelli said.
“Right now, we’re starting to click on all cylinders,” Brunelli said. “I’m pretty sure we haven’t played our best game, and that’s going to be Saturday night.”