Charlotte Hornets

UNC's Isaiah Hicks Taking Charge of NBA Fate

Talking to Tar Heel Isaiah Hicks at the NBA Combine.

CHICAGO -- If there was one main takeaway from Isaiah Hicks's senior campaign at North Carolina, it was that when he's focused and assertive, he can make a big impact. Just ask Gonzaga, which watched him hit key late baskets in the national title game. Hicks tried to apply that approach to the NBA Combine this week and saw positive results, as he's piqued the interest of a number of teams.

What do you feel like you have to show teams at the Combine?
My biggest thing is probably rebounding. At my size and at my position, some think I should have averaged a double-double. I feel like that's my biggest thing. Rebounding, bodying people on defense, blocking shots, protecting the paint. I feel like that's the biggest thing I have to do.

What teams have you met with? Do you feel like there's a team that's just perfect for you?
Yeah, I feel like a few. I don't want to name all of them. Miami, Clippers, Milwaukee, Golden State, Wizards, and Houston. 

What's your focus in terms of your game the next few weeks?
My biggest focus is on the defensive end. And I feel like offense, you can have off-nights and things aren't going your way, so I can't rely on that too much. So, my biggest thing is getting rebounds, protecting the paint, guarding my man. Following shots, talk, do whatever I can on the defensive end because that's what I can control.

How has this process been so far?
For me it's been exciting. But the biggest thing is kind of honored and blessed to be in the situation. To actually be in this situation here is kind of surreal.

You've had a lot of teammates go through the combine in the past. Did you talk to them?
 Oh yeah. They just said to be honest, play hard and give effort. Try to be different. Don't just do what everyone else does. Just be yourself and be a leader.

What's been your focus since winning the championship? How do you shift gears from celebrating to focusing on this?
I would say that once that goal has been checked, there's another goal. And I feel like being able to check off little pieces, like getting invited to the combine, doing this, working out. I feel like one week after the championship, I'm graduating, this is it. I have to get ready for the next step.

How do you feel moving on to the next step of your life? Graduating and moving on to the pros?
I mean, for me, it's very exciting. Unlike some people, I don't have a backup plan. This is kind of an all-or-nothing type of thing. This is the biggest thing for me since I'm graduating. You're not worried about going back to school. You're not worried about finishing classes. I feel like I can be all in with this. 

In terms of senior year, how much did it prepare you for this process? Getting more minutes and things like that?
I felt like that helped me a lot. It put me in a lot of situations, moving forward, that I'll be in. Being a leader, stuff like that. It helped me mature.

Who are you leaning on the most for guidance during this time?
I'm always talking to people. Former players and current players. My older brother Alan. He's really always looking out for me. Telling me this, telling me that. He's always looking out for me.

Who are you training with? What was that like?
I'm training with Justin (Jackson), who trains with this guy Gilbert (Abraham). We trained at Chapel Hill. Sometimes I'd go with Justin, sometimes I'd go by myself. And it was two-a-day type stuff.

In terms of Roy Williams, what did he say when you were entering this process?
Just be Isaiah. Leave everything on the court. There were a few times during the season where I was passive and wasn't assertive or in foul trouble. I just need to be Isaiah.

What's it like having three teammates in this?
It's really comforting. Me and Kennedy (Meeks) are roommates. Justin and Tony (Bradley) are roommates. I feel like that's a good thing. We always can talk, and stuff like that. Help each other out. Just be there for each other in this process.


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