Hickson's 32 Leads Wheeler in Tourney Opener

LEXINGTON, KY – Although Marietta (Ga.) Wheeler held a double digit lead against Lexington (Ky.) Catholic much of the game, they needed a few strong plays down the stretch by J.J. Hickson to overcome a late rally by the Knights and win 69-67.

"We made it harder than it really was," J.J. Hickson said after the game. "We were up 18 at one time in the fourth quarter and they cut it down to five with three minutes [left]. We need to learn to play together, cut down on the turnover and be more patient."

The North Carolina State commit displayed his full arsenal Friday night as he went for 32 points and 17 rebounds. The 6-9, 220-pound post player scored most of his points in the paint on a variety of post moves, but he did step out and knock down a 15-foot jumper.

"I think my performance was good on the defensive end, but on the offensive end I need to cut down on my turnovers and just let the game come to me and not try to fight through the double teams and just to trust my teammates."

Hickson showed his athleticism by finishing off a few alley-oop passes. He maneuvered well on the block, scored off a drop steps and used his strength around the basket to muscle up shots.

Throughout his high school career Hickson has been a tad inconsistent, but he played the entire game against Lexington Catholic and never let up. At times he tries to take on too many defenders, but it's obvious that he's a high level talent and should be an impact player for NC State.

When Hickson's high school career ends he'll play in a few all-star games before heading to Raleigh, N.C., where he'll play for Sidney Lowe. After the game he acknowledged a few aspects he needs to improve before he gets there.

"Going to NC State is a good thing for me. I just need to mature on and off the court more. I need to be more of a leader on and off the court too."

Hickson can't wait to become a member of the Wolfpack and he hopes to get them back on the basketball map.

"NC State has a new head coach and he's played there and he's won a National Championship and he's coached in the league so he knows what it takes to get there. I'm going to try and come in and show them what I can do and hopefully bring the program back."

Hickson will be back in action tonight against London (Ky.) South Laurel at 8:30 in the final day of the Nissan on Nicholasville shootout.

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