North Carolina

UNC’s Isaiah Hicks makes his case to NBA scouts

North Carolina's Isaiah Hicks (4) shoots as Oregon's Dillon Brooks (24) defends during the first half of UNC's game against Oregon in an NCAA Final Four semifinal game at the University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale, Arizona on April 1.
North Carolina's Isaiah Hicks (4) shoots as Oregon's Dillon Brooks (24) defends during the first half of UNC's game against Oregon in an NCAA Final Four semifinal game at the University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale, Arizona on April 1. ehyman@newsobserver.com

Unlike his North Carolina teammates Justin Jackson and Tony Bradley, Oxford’s Isaiah Hicks is not projected as a potential first-round pick in next month’s NBA draft.

In fact, Hicks isn’t projected to be drafted at all according to DraftExpress.com.

But Hicks knows who he is as a basketball player and he’s here at the NBA Draft Combine trying to demonstrate it to all 30 NBA teams

“My biggest thing was the rebounding, so trying to show my defensive ability,” Hicks said at Quest Multisport Complex after he went for 13 points and six rebounds in a scrimmage where he played, and won, alongside Duke point guard Frank Jackson.

Hicks, who measured 6-8 1/2 in shoes with a 7 1/2 -foot wingspan, has interviewed here with Golden State, Miami, Milwaukee, Houston, Washington and the Los Angeles Clippers.

“Basically, they wanted me to show my effort, getting defensive rebounds, showing my defensive ability, getting blocks and bringing energy on defense and letting that translate to offense,” Hicks said.

Hicks said his ultimate goal is to “be like Amar’e Stoudemire,” who, ironically, was known more for his offense and dunking ability than his defense.

Hicks, who averaged 11.8 points and 5.5 rebounds as the Tar Heels won the NCAA championship, has yet to hire an agent but is fully vested in the draft process as a graduating senior.

“They are fringe NBA players,” ESPN’s Fran Fraschilla said of Hicks and his North Carolina teammate Kennedy Meeks. “Their size and athleticism and the way the NBA is played nowadays with the speed of the game, it doesn’t cater to their strengths. They’re both below-the-rim, undersized big men, each capable of making a roster, but what we would call a fringe roster guy.”

Bradley, meantime, could become North Carolina’s first one-and-done player in a decade, since Brandan Wright in 2007. Hicks thinks North Carolina tends to attract more program-type guys.

“I think with Carolina it’s always about the team, not necessarily about you,” Hicks said. “The biggest thing about Carolina is just us being a big family. Of course you have to sacrifice your individual goals sometimes to make a goal. I guess it all paid off with a championship. So that’s the biggest thing at Carolina, coach (Roy Williams) tells you it’s not about you, it’s about the name on the front of the jersey.”

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