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Player Profile: Isaiah Hicks

Robert Hanashiro-USA TODAY Sports

Isaiah Hicks - Junior, Forward, 6-9, 235 lbs.

2014-15 Stats: 6.6 PPG, 3.0 RPG, 54.4 FG%, 62.1 FT%

What Happened Last Season

Isaiah Hicks' athleticism finally vaulted him into a key slot in UNC's deep post rotation, averaging about 15 minutes per game to go with some modest scoring and rebounding numbers. Hicks endeared himself to the coaches for his defense, as he graded out highest on the team in defense in 13 of 38 games, and shared team accolades as most-improved player last year. Hicks was not as smooth on offense, however, despite his 54% shooting numbers, given he struggled to consistently create scoring opportunities. When he was called on to play longer stretches, he did fairly well, averaging 15 points in the three games he played more than 20 minutes. And with UNC's post rotation injured and stretched thin at varous points in the season, Hicks stepped up to start 3 games (including scoring a career-high 21 points in a start at Boston College) and shot 10 of 17 from the floor in the ACC Tournament. In all, Hicks was a valuable and capable substitute but firmly entrenched behind Kennedy Meeks and Brice Johnson.

Season Outlook

Despite changing his uniform number from 22 to 4, the upcoming season looks to be more of the same for Hicks, a McDonald's All-American and the 2013 North Carolina player of the year. Hicks will be the first sub at power forward, spelling All-ACC returner Johnson, but can capably start if Johnson or Meeks get injured, or if Johnson sputters as he did in the exhibition game against Guilford. And while too much cannot be read into a glorified practice against the Quakers, Hicks was an efficient 6-7 from the floor for 12 points and seven rebounds in only 18 minutes, which came on the heels of a 6-9 performance in the Late Night With Roy scrimmage. The preseason buzz on Hicks has been his improvement on scoring the ball, which certainly held him back last season. Roy Williams has spoken to his increased aggressiveness and work ethic as well. If Hicks can spell Johnson with little reduction in efficiency or skill, that would go a long way to shoring up Carolina inside and allow Johnson to continue to be aggressive given his foul-prone nature. If Hicks plays to his potential, opponents will no longer be able to pick their poison between Hicks and Johnson as both will be as effective.