UNC Basketball Recruiting: Isaiah Hicks Signing Brings Hope to 2013 Class

Rollin YeattsFeatured ColumnistNovember 14, 2012

Photo Courtesy of NewsObserver.com
Photo Courtesy of NewsObserver.com

The early signing period started today, and Roy Williams won't have to wait very long for his first official commit.

North Carolina's lone 5-star recruit for the 2013 class plans to ink his name to the legendary program at his signing ceremony, scheduled for 6 p.m. EST today. With the signing of Isaiah Hicks comes hope to a program that has seen its share of ups and downs with this recruiting class.

It has been a tough year of recruiting for the Tar Heels. The months of August and September were particularly frustrating, as UNC seemed to be dropped from list after list.

Many of us thought there was a good chance of landing players like Julius Randle, Austin Nichols, Noah Vonleh or even Troy Williams—who once had UNC and Kentucky as his finalists.

It just wasn't to be.

Were they lost in the wake of the academic scandal? Was it fear of Roy Williams' health? We'll probably never know why these guys turned away.

What we do know is there will be no turning back after Isaiah Hicks signs his name on the letter of intent.

There wasn't much questioning of his loyalty to Carolina, anyway. He is a lifelong fan of the program, and he didn't even wait to get home from his unofficial visit before he made his verbal commitment known in August of 2011.

According to Sherrell McMillan of Inside Carolina (subscription required), this is what he had to say about his love for the program:

I’ve always loved Carolina. I grew up a Carolina fan and just love everything about the school. I can’t even explain it; it’s just where I knew I was supposed to be.

Hicks has a great attitude, fitting well with the type of players Roy prefers to recruit. He wants hard workers with class, and that's what he's getting with the young man out of Oxford, NC.

The power forward from Webb High School is currently ranked No. 18 on the 2013 ESPN 100. He is also considered the top power forward in the state of North Carolina—with good reason, too.

Hicks has all the tools necessary to become a star in Chapel Hill.

Though his post game isn't refined at this point, there is a whole season of basketball and another AAU summer to get the complete package together. This young man has a great face-up game, and he won't hesitate to take it to the hole.

He also sports superior athleticism and excellent leaping ability, making him a great rebounder and shot-blocker. If he can add a hook or a turnaround jumper to his repertoire, he will become lethal at the collegiate level.

The biggest knock against Hicks is his slim frame, at 6'8" and 210 pounds. But Carolina has a knack for packing weight on the lanky recruits that come through.

Think about John Henson and and Desmond Hubert, who packed on an extra 30 pounds at Chapel Hill despite their slender build. Hubert managed to do that over just one summer.

On top of that, he already has about 20 pounds on freshman Brice Johnson. And who can argue the impact Johnson has already made, just two games into the young season?

The two players are actually very similar in their game at this point. They are almost mirror images of each other on the court.

Assuming James Michael McAdoo enters the NBA drat this year, Hicks will be a relief to have behind Johnson. The two could be a very scary combination for opponents to deal with as their game continues to develop.

There is no news on verbal commit Nate Britt to this point, but I doubt we will have to wait long for him either. Kennedy Meeks could make his decision during the early signing period, but there is no specific time table for him to choose between Georgetown and North Carolina.

It could be next spring—we just don't know. My gut says he signs with someone by Nov. 21.

What we do know is Roy Williams has locked down his first piece of the 2013 recruiting puzzle, and it's a very significant one.

Carolina may have missed out on all of the top 10 recruits, but the signing of Isaiah Hicks keeps hope alive in Chapel Hill—and for longer than the year Roy would have gotten from Julius Randle.