Dwayne West, director of Hicks's Garner Roads travel team, said that the 6-foot-8, 210-pound forward's decision was to ensure that he reaches his ultimate goal.
"The primary reason he went back is because there's nothing greater than fulfilling your dreams," said West, brother of New Orleans Hornets star David West. "The first time I met him, I asked him what his goals were. He said 'To play at Carolina.' This move makes sure that his dreams become reality.
"The school that he was at, Body of Christ, there were some questions of whether or not the NCAA would take some of their courses," West continued. "So, Isaiah said, why take those chances? Why risk being ineligible because the NCAA wouldn't take certain classes. That's the primary reason he went back to public school. He valued fulfilling his dream, so he left a place he was extremely comfortable at to go to a place where he knows he'll get what he needs."
West has been around Hicks since the summer before his freshman year of high school. He noted that because Hicks is still relatively new to basketball, he's just beginning to flourish as a player.
"Isaiah is very raw at this point," West said. "There are some kids that have played the game since they were eight or nine years old - not Isaiah, he hasn't done all that stuff. He's naturally gifted, naturally talented, unbelievably athletic and has so much natural upside. Blocking shots and finishing around the rim are things he's just picked up on."
Heading into his junior season, West believes Hicks is progressing well.
"He's on the road to becoming a complete player," West explained. "He's consistently hitting a jumper from the wing. The next step is to be able put the ball on the floor and score from the wing as well. He's already special and he's going to get better and better."
Hicks, ranked the No. 9 overall player in the class of 2013 by Scout.com, committed to UNC on Aug. 8, just hours after receiving a scholarship offer from the Tar Heels. West said Hicks's persona, attitude and work ethic made him a perfect fit for Roy Williams and the Tar Heels.
"When I sat in with Coach Williams for T.J. (Warren)'s visit, he talked about the Carolina Way and the Carolina family," said West. "Isaiah is the kind of kid that values family a lot - that's why it's so good that he's committed to UNC, because he's very close to his family. He's a very loyal and trustworthy kid. Carolina isn't going to have to worry about what he's doing when they aren't around. He's going to be at the house or at the gym."