HOOPS: Hickson Visits UF October 7

With two good visits under his belt and a couple of more scheduled, it’s still a wide open game for J.J. Hickson, the 6-9, 235-pound low blocks dominator that is rated the number 21 prospect in the country by Scout.com. Hickson has visited Tennessee and N.C. State already. Next on his visit list is Florida on October 7.

“He’s really excited that he’ll be coming down to Gainesville next week … he really loves Billy Donovan,” said Desmond Eastman, Hickson’s AAU coach for the World Wide Renegades. Hickson will be coming to Florida for Homecoming weekend when the Gators have LSU on the football schedule.

“He actually saw the Gators play up at Tennessee,” said Eastman. “He was there for that game. He had a good visit up at Tennessee. I’d say it was really good and last weekend he visited North Carolina State. That went really well, too. I think he was very impressed with them.”

Hickson, who averaged 21 points and 11 rebounds per game at Marietta (GA) Wheeler last year, has a visit to Georgetown for Midnight Madness scheduled and there is a possibility that he will visit Kentucky.

“We’re trying to see if we can work that out,” said Eastman.

The decision won’t take long after the final visit. Eastman says that Hickson has gone about all the official visits with a definite purpose and that he will arrive at his choice soon after returning home from Georgetown.

“I would say that he’ll be ready to make that commitment the Monday (October 16) after Midnight Madness,” said Eastman. “Right now, I can’t say that he has a clear favorite. He’s going to wait until he’s made all his visits and then he’ll make his choice.”

Meanwhile, Hickson is working out daily at Wheeler High school. Eastman says Hickson has an entire list of things he wants to work. He says that Hickson has an outstanding work ethic.

“He works hard on his school work and as far as basketball, he’s doing a lot of individual stuff now,” said Eastman. “He was playing a lot against NBA and other pros, but they’ve all gone to training camp now so he’s doing his individual workouts every day.”

Hickson is considered one of the elite low post scorers in the high school recruiting class of 2007. Offense is not a problem for Hickson, who has a reputation for heating up fast. He’s spending his workout time refining his game, giving plenty of attention to ball handling, rebounding and passing as well as taking time to work on his outside shot.

“About the only thing he really can’t work on right now is his defense because he can’t get a lot of contact,” said Eastman. “Defense and court awareness will have to improve once he starts his high school season, but he’s working hard on the other things. He’s pretty intense.”

He’s also spending a lot of time playing one-on-one games with Tre Lang, a 6-7, 215-pounder who is a Wheeler teammate. Lang is the son of former Arkansas star and NBA center Andrew Lang.

“They go at it pretty hard,” said Eastman. “They push each other and that’s good for both of them right now.”

Franz Beard
Back in January of 1969, the late, great Jack Hairston, then the sports editor of the Jacksonville Journal, called me on the phone one night and asked me if I wanted to work for him. I said yes. The entire interview took 30 seconds. It's my experience that whenever the interview lasts 30 seconds or less, I get the job. In the 48 years that I've been writing and getting paid for it, I've covered Super Bowls, World Series, NCAA basketball championships, BCS championship games, heavyweight title fights and what seems like thousands of college football, baseball and basketball games. I'm a columnist and special assignments editor for Gator Country once again, writing about the only team that ever mattered to me, the Florida Gators.