J.J. Hickson; Climbing the Ladder

J.J. Hickson isn't kidding. There aren't any secrets to why certain things are happening to him. He's just playing the game he's loved his whole life. "I just go out and play hard," Hickson said. "I just do what I do and have to continue to get better." Getting any better would be scary.

Hickson is one of the hottest recruits in the country ranked as the 20th best prospect in the class of 2007 by Scout.com.

The 6-foot-8, 220 pound forward has become a major target for top programs around the country, blending jaw-dropping with athleticism with a finesse game that would make Boris Diaw envious.

"I run the floor like Shaquille O'Neal, but I have the finesse of Kevin Garnett," Hickson said.

Versatility has been crucial to his development, showing off the multifaceted offensive game that could make him a difficult matchup at the college level.

To Hickson, variety is the major component to his growing repertoire.

"Every time I step on the court, I try and do something different," Hickson said. "Being able to shoot from the perimeter and post up with my back to the basket. I just have to continue to get better."

No one should have any doubt of that.

But who will entice J.J. Hickson to step foot on their campus in the fall of 2007? According to him, the list is long, but there are no leaders -- he is being heavily recruited by a plethora of schools in the Big 12 and ACC.

So what is the key to landing this stud forward?

Two things; playing time and the ability to prepare him to play at the professional level.

The latter he knows would be available at Gampel Pavilion under Coach Jim Calhoun.

"Obviously, if a school produces a lot of pros, it says a lot about the school and the coach", Hickson said. "Connecticut has produced a lot of pros, like Ray Allen and others."

The Huskies seem like a possibility to earn Hickson's services but could be set at the forward positions for a few years with Curtis Kelly, Jeff Adrien, and Gavin Edwards.

But Hickson made it clear that playing time was crucial in his decision, a factor that may make even a prominent program like UConn a long shot.

In the meantime, the lanky forward whose game is somewhat similar to Hakim Warrick's is taking things one day at a time.

"I really don't know yet," Hickson said of naming a favorite. "Right now, it's wide open."

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