Ever since helping the Tar Heels win a national championship back in 2017, Isaiah Hicks had been doing everything that he could to earn a roster spot with the New York Knicks. After spending the summer playing for the Charlotte Hornets in the NBA Summer League, Hicks’ career path has now shifted and he will be taking his talents overseas.
Yesterday afternoon, Inside Carolina’s Ross Martin reported that Isaiah Hicks signed a contract to play basketball for the VTB United League, which is considered the highest level of Russian basketball. There, Hicks will play for the Avtodor Saratov, which is based in Saratov. According to eurobasket.com, Hicks will be a starter for the basketball club along with two other American players.
Hicks had what was looking like a promising start to his professional career, despite not being selected in the NBA Draft. When the New York Knicks picked him up he took advantage of his opportunity in the G-League, which led to him playing in 18 NBA games. When he finished his rookie year averaging 4.4 points and 1.7 rebounds per game there was talk that came out of the organization that Hicks may have a future with the Knicks. However, his second year wasn’t quite as kind to him. While he didn’t necessarily show signs of regression in terms of his productivity with the team (his stats were nearly identical to the previous season, Hicks only played in three NBA games this past season, but played in 27 games for the G-League, averaging 16.5 points and 7.3 rebounds per game. From there, Hicks ended up with the Charlotte Hornets for the NBA Summer League.
During the Summer League, Hicks averaged 9.8 points, 5.3 rebounds, and 1.5 steals per game, and shot 65% from the field prior to the Hornets’ final game against the Utah Jazz. In the finale, Hicks finished the game with 10 points, 4 rebounds, and a pair of assists. As fate would have it, he was outshined against the Jazz by former UNC teammate Kennedy Meeks, who finished the game with 18 points, 10 rebounds, and 4 assists. The rest of the story is history, and Hicks will now take his talents to Russia in order to make a name for himself.
Hicks’ new journey overseas can be looked at two ways: Carolina fans can dwell on the fact that yet another Tar Heel is overseas instead of playing in the NBA, or this can be viewed as an opportunity to become a star for an international league, much like former Tar Heels have done in the past. Truthfully there’s no right or wrong way to look at it, as not getting to see our favorite players play in the NBA isn’t particularly fun, but also there’s a lot of money, opportunity, and fame waiting for these players when they make their way to other countries to continue their professional career. Either way, Isaiah Hicks is a NCAA champion, and that story will never change.