Hickson's Future in Limbo

CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- J.J. Hickson's 27-point, 14-rebound performance against Miami showed off the freshman's immense talent. That talent could be the reason he played his last game for the Pack on Thursday.

J.J. Hickson didn't start after violating a team rule, but he was the dominant force for NC State in its loss to Miami on Thursday night.

"We went to him just about every single time, just played off of him," Sidney Lowe said.

His 27-point, 14-rebound performance underscored just how talented the freshman big man is, and how it might be the last time he displays that talent in an NC State uniform. The NBA will no doubt be tempting Hickson from this point till the deadline for underclassman to declare, and he gave no indication as to what his plan was after the game.

"No time table as of now," Hickson said. "I'm just going to get together with my family and see where I'm at on the draft board and just go from there."

Hickson said the Pack's season, which ended with nine straight losses, will have no bearing on his decision to leave. Various websites have Hickson anywhere from the middle of the first round to the early second round on the draft board, and Hickson said he will only go pro if the situation looks good for him.

"If I'm not where I want to be I'll come back and try to make a big difference on my team next year and just do better," Hickson said.

Coach Lowe, who was both a head coach and an assistant coach for many years in the NBA, didn't beg for Hickson's return. Instead he simply said he would talk with Hickson and try to direct him towards the best course of action this summer.

"It's something we have to sit down and talk to his grandmother and talk to his people and see what is best for J.J.," Lowe said. "My concern is him No. 1, then our team second. I told him that when I recruited him that he's going to have a great opportunity. Personally I'd like for him to take advantage of his ability and not to sell himself short by just going just to go."

Since most consider Hickson to be a lottery pick should he return for his sophomore season, a likely scenario is he could declare for the draft and not sign with an agent.

According to NCAA rules, college basketball players can declare for the draft and attend camps and tryouts. If they do not hire an agent, they have the option of withdrawing from the draft and returning to school. However, a player is allowed to go through that process only once.

The process would be ideal for a player in Hickson's situation. He could put his name in the draft, work out for different teams, find out where he really stands and, if he doesn't like his position and doesn't sign with an agent, return for his sophomore season.

Hickson has until April 27 to reach his decision on entering the draft as that is the deadline for declaring. This year's draft will be held on June 26, and the deadline for withdrawing from the draft is June 16.

This will be a major decision for Hickson. In 2007, the NBA reduced contracts for rookies from three guaranteed years to two. The two-year guaranteed contracts have two additional years that are team options, giving teams the chance to extend contracts for two more seasons if they are satisfied with the progress of the player. The No. 1 pick in the 2007 NBA Draft, Greg Oden, was guaranteed $3.885 million his rookie season. The last pick in the first round, Petteri Koponen, was guaranteed $771,000 his first year in the league.

Rookie salaries are not automatically guaranteed for second-round picks, but over the years some second-round picks have been able to negotiate guaranteed money.

Hickson finished his freshman season averaging 14.8 points and 8.5 rebounds while shooting an ACC-leading 59% from the field. For his efforts, he was an honorable mention All-ACC selection and All-ACC Rookie Team pick.

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