"Basically, I'm just focused on trying to get better. Dribbling, shooting, defense, just a little bit of everything."
In just a few words, Hicks displayed his on-the-court style, off-the-court demeanor and the reason his AAU, high school and future college coaches rave about him.
"He's always been very unassuming and very modest," said Dwayne West, director of Hicks's Garner Roads travel team. "He doesn't worry about what other people do, or what other people think. He just goes out, helps his teammates and tries to play his best against the best there is."
With Garner Road team on the Adidas circuit this summer, Hicks has drawn high praise from analysts and scouts. His combination of athleticism and size makes him tough to defend offensively, and a force defensively.
"Hicks has turned himself into one of the elite power forwards in the 2013 class with the development of his jump shot and continued improvement on both ends of the floor," said Evan Daniels, Scout.com's National Recruiting Analyst. "While he could spend more time on the glass, he has learned how to use his length to impact things on the defensive end."
As May wraps up and June begins, Hicks is likely to participate in several prestigious camps and tournaments across the country. He sprained his ankle last week and, while not serious, is out for two weeks. He'll travel to Las Vegas this weekend for the second of four adidas Nations 2012 training sessions, but won't participate.
"Even though he's not playing, he can learn a lot about mindset at skills camps like adidas Nations," said West. "He's going to be around people who have competed and succeeded at the highest levels. This experience will be a continuation of him understanding that there's a mindset to everything you do – whether it's academically or how you manage your lounging time."
Hicks hopes to be ready for the Best Buy Classic in Chicago over Memorial Day weekend.
Though he's eager to prove himself against the country's top players, Hicks said he was most excited about games that will played less than 50 miles from his hometown.
"I'm looking forward to playing pickup at the Smith Center again this year," he said. "I had a lot of fun playing last summer."
In addition to being a year older, stronger and faster, summer pickup games will be among Hicks's first opportunities to interact with UNC's former players, as a future Tar Heel.
"It was crazy last summer, because I was playing against all these guys I grew up watching like Rasheed Wallace and Raymond Felton – all of them," he said. "This year, though, I have a lot more confidence. When you first go there, you're all nervous and stuff. I don't think I'll be like that this year."
After committing last August, UNC head coach Roy Williams told Hicks he wasn't sure what specific position and role he'd play when he arrived in Chapel Hill in June of 2013.
That's still the case.
"He told me that because I might grow some more," Hicks said. "I'm 6-foot-8 and a half and about 198 pounds right now. But, they haven't really said anything about that yet."
Hicks maintains the relationship with the UNC coaching staff with regular communication.
"We probably talk two or three times per week," said Hicks. "It's usually school work, then some basketball. They just keep checking in to make sure I'm doing OK."
In addition to Hicks, UNC also has a verbal commitment for the 2013 class from Gonzaga (D.C.) College point guard Nate Britt. Carolina has scholarship offers out to five other players in the class, three of which are to post players.
While he's not actively recruiting any of those five prospects to join him at UNC, Hicks has played with – or against – several of them.
"Julius Randle is a pretty dominant person," he said. "He's just dominant on the boards. I'd love to play with him – me and him; I think that'd be great.
"I don't know much about Austin Nichols. Kennedy (Meeks), he's just a really good big man. He's probably the best in our class. We're pretty good friends and I could definitely see us playing together. Troy (Williams) – he's a good scorer and he plays hard."
Hicks's commitment to UNC, just hours after receiving a scholarship offer, has endeared him to many Tar Heels fans.
He said he's never felt more confident in his decision.
"UNC is exactly where I want to go," he said. "I don't regret when I committed or how I committed. I love being a Tar Heel."