PF Isaiah Hicks, Freshman, 6-8, 220 lbs
Isaiah Hicks arrives in Chapel Hill after a fairly successful senior campaign in high school. Hicks led J.F. Webb(Oxford) to the NCHSAA 3-A state title with one of the most dominating performances in the history of the tournament. Hicks was nearly unstoppable putting up 34 points, 30 rebounds and blocking seven shots in the championship win over Statesville. The rebounding total was a North Carolina state record. Hicks joins current Minnesota Timberwolves player, Kevin Love, as the only other person to grab 30 or more rebounds in a state tournament anywhere. Hicks played 33 minutes in the game which means he came awfully close to pulling down one rebound per minute.
Unfortunately, Hicks isn't likely to repeat that performance on the college level but he should be very good before his time in Chapel Hill is done. Hicks athleticism is his key asset illustrated by his ability to grab rebounds and block shots at an incredible rate. As noted in his Scout.com profile, Hicks can run the floor as well which makes him a great fit for Roy Williams' system. Hicks will get chances to score in open space, assuming the offense clicks like it should.
The knock on Hicks will be his weight and strength. At 6-8 and 220 lbs, he is a tad on the light side. That will impact his ability to play in the low post though it is doubtful he sees much time at the five. UNC has plenty of depth at center and a pair of big bodies to occupy that spot on the floor. Assuming Joel James and Kennedy Meeks can get the job done Hicks shouldn't find himself going against opposing centers too often. Hicks will see most of his time at the power forward position, probably in relief of James Michael McAdoo or if McAdoo slides to the three which may happen some early on thanks to some probably NCAA induced depth issues.
When asked about a comparison, Roy Williams hesitated to compare Hicks to John Henson because he didn't feel the shot blocking was as good. He did say he thought Hicks was probably in between Henson and Kenyon Martin. That is solid company to be in and speaks to his potential. Hicks' main role will be to rebound and play defense. The offense should be somewhat of a secondary concern for him once UNC is running with all the available scoring options. Still, there is a lot an athletic player like Hicks can bring to the table, especially in the open, up-tempo style the Tar Heels use.