HSOT: Isaiah Hicks Q&A

HSOT: Isaiah Hicks Q&A

RALEIGH --- North Carolina signee Isaiah Hicks and his coach talked following their opening game at the HSOT Holiday Invitational ...

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ISAIAH HICKS

You seem to let the game come to you and then dominate in spurts. Is that the way you want to play?

Yeah, because actually in our game (at the Chick-fil-A Classic last week in Columbia against) Shiloh, I think I went 4-for-15 and I texted Coach McGrath that night because he watched me. I asked what I can work on and he said I was doing well on defense, and I was getting double teamed, and he was telling me ‘Try not to force stuff.' So I took that as a lesson and let it come to me tonight.

Does that mean only taking the shots that are there for you?

Take good shots. I don't want to catch the ball against a double team and just go up and shoot. I just need to think: is it a good shot, is it a bad shot?

You showed the ability to catch the ball 15 feet from the basket, dribble and pull up to hit a jump shot. Is that something you've been focusing on developing?

Yeah, because usually I'll play someone my height and they'll be able to put their hand in my face and I can't just shoot in front of them. So I have to develop that one dribble pull-up or try to get past them.

How do you maintain that balance where you're trying to develop a perimeter game but still be a low post player, because you're not going to be a wing at the next level …

Just work on all of it. I don't leave the gym until I work on everything. It's not that hard to me.

Where have you noticed the improvement in your game over the last year?

Getting comfortable with the ball. Usually I'd just catch it and move too fast, so I've calmed myself down and taken my time.

Do you feel like your role with this team is different than last year?

Last year I just never stepped up to take the (leadership) role. This year I've stepped up, taking the role as a leader – that's the difference. … Everybody looks up to me, sees me as No. 1 in the state and going to Carolina – so it's very important.

Speaking of Carolina, with Kennedy Meeks joining your UNC class, what do you think of playing together in college?

… It'll be fun because Kennedy likes to pass the ball too.

Did you talk to him after he made his decision? I said ‘About time.' Took forever to make that decision and everyone knew he was going to make it.

Did you get a heads up before he announced?

He just tried to keep it a secret from us, I guess, but I knew deep down he was going to go (to Carolina).

Why wasn't there any doubt in your mind?

I couldn't see him playing for Georgetown, and Carolina probably needs help down there. Joel James can't do it by himself so Kennedy will be a good fit.

When you're watching the team this year, where do you see yourself fitting in?

Basically where Brice (Johnson) is. … Playing defense, blocking shots, getting dunks, running the floor.

What has Coach Williams communicated to you in terms of his expectations for your development?

Actually Coach Williams just told me to win a lot of games and get used to winning.

WEBB HEAD COACH LEO BRUNELLI

Can you tell me about Isaiah's development since you've been coaching him?

… He's a pleasure to coach. He works on his game. His freshman year he was unbelievable defensively, then he realized Coach would get him the ball if he worked on his offensive game. Now I've got to chase him out of the gym. It's tough, I've got an 11-year-old and 8-year-old at home. … All kidding aside, it's great to have a great player who works hard. And he continually works and strives. I know his upside is incredible and he's pretty doggone good right now.

You seemed content with him being around the perimeter a lot. He hit a three-pointer, some one-dribble pull-up mid-range jumpers, and he handled the ball on the break. For your team, and for him, is that important?

Absolutely. Last year, it was the bus ride home after our playoff loss, he was already thinking about postseason workouts. We gave him a couple weeks off and I told him, ‘We've got to extend to 19-, 20-feet.' Actually he has the green light from another two or three feet, though I hope you don't get to see it. He knows. He's worked, he's earned that license. Someone said ‘Why do you have the 6-9 guy bring the ball down?' Because the 6-9 guy can bring the ball down. I'm not going to limit what his abilities are. He's a special player – once in a lifetime for a coach. We have a lot of options and he's very unselfish. He does so many things well, but that's probably his best quality - he makes players better. …

Did his versatility mostly develop within the past year?

Absolutely and it happened over our summer work. We got in a situation where our point guard hurt his knee and our other point guard had blood on his uniform and I looked and looked and it was one of those accidental but ‘that looks pretty good let's do it' deals. And he took over. Obviously we're going to try and keep him near the rim because he can do some special things there, but if we need to beat a press I'm not afraid to give him the ball. He's earned it.

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