Tony Hicks is a 24 year old 186cm guard from Chicago, Illinois that is playing his second professional season and first with the Rostock SEAWOLVES (Pro A). Last season as a rookie he played with the Surrey Scorchers (United Kingdom-BBL) playing 35 games: Score-2 (19.4ppg), 3.5rpg, 5.7apg, Steals-4 (1.8spg), FGP-2 (62.0%), 3PT: 36.1%, FT: 81.5%. He began his basketball career at St. Rita High School and in 2012-2013 played at Pennsylvania (NCAA) playing 30 games averaging 10.4ppg, 2.5rpg, 2.0apg, FGP: 40.5%, 3PT: 35.5%, FT: 81.1%. In his second season at Pennsylvania (NCAA) he played 27 games averaging 14.9ppg, 2.6rpg, 2.9apg, FGP: 46.6%, 3PT: 31.9%, FT: 76.4%. In his junior season at Pennsylvania (NCAA) he played 26 games averaging 13.2ppg, 3.5rpg, 2.5apg, FGP: 42.5%, 3PT: 37.1%, FT: 77.7%. He transferred to Louisville (NCAA) in 2015 and sat out due to NCAA transfer rules and played his senior year there playing 23 games averaging 3.7ppg, 1.0rpg. He has led Rostock to a 2-1 record and is currently the top guard in the Pro A averaging 22,7, 5,7rpg and 6,3apg. He spoke to germanhoops.com earlier in the summer about basketball.
Tony thanks for talking to germanhoops.com After a nice rookie season in the UK with Surrey how did you spend your first summer as a professional basketball player? Did you visit any nice sights?
My first Summer is spent totally in the gym honestly. My friends and girlfriend have to force me to go places. I’m a big time homebody.
After a very strong rookie season with Surrey what were your main goals going into this summer’s transfer period. How was this summer different than the first one where you came right out of school?
My main goals this past summer was just focusing on staying sharp. In terms of improving certain things, I just wanted to work on creating my shot a bit faster knowing I’d be going to compete at a higher level.
Congrats on signing with the Rostock SEAWOLVES. What were the main reasons for you joining this club? Was one of the facts that this club is very ambitious and has had a rapid surge in the last 4 years one that was important in your decision?
Thank you, yes the ambitions and rapid success had a big part. I try to appreciate everything and live in the moment so when an organization like this contacted me I was very interested.
Rostock has been known for having very good American point guards in the last years. Your coming off a very good rookie season in England. What do you feel will the Rostock SEAWOLVES benefit most from your game in their debut season in the Pro A?
I just try to do whatever I can to help us win. My main goal as a point guard is to get everyone involved and play my game as it comes, being as efficient as possible. And defensively I try to make the opposing guards work for everything, using my instincts, length, and quickness to create chaos.
Let’s talk about your game. You’re a very good scorer, can drain the jumper, penetrate, run the break and finish with class on the break. If you had to compare your game to an NBA player who would best fit how you play the game?
I’m a guy that watches a ton of film, I think that I have aspects of my game that can relate to a lot of different guys. But if I had to choose one in terms of how I move physically, and play on both ends of the floor I think I would have to say Jrue Holiday.
You never averaged more than 2,9apg in the NCAA and then last season as a professional rookie in England you averaged 5,7 dimes per game. Did you always know you could be capable of being that dominant floor general and not only scorer?
Yes absolutely, at Pennsylvania I was needed to score. My mindset and demeanor has changed completely as I’ve transitioned to a PG. But I’ve always knew that I was capable of being a floor general, always knowing that the higher the level I could get myself to that I would have to become more of a floor general. I get much more joy from setting guys up to score. I played quarterback from age 6-15 so it’s natural for me.
You never have shot over 40% from outside, but in the high 30 % a number of times. Do you feel that with added experience, a better grip of the European game and continued improved shot selection that you could turn into a 40% shooter from outside in the future?
Yes, this past season was probably my best shooting year and I credit it to letting the game come and taking good open shots.
You’re a guy that can fill the stat sheet at ease, but what do you feel is a hidden strength in your game that doesn’t get noticed right away on the court?
I am a much better defender that I get credit for I believe. I try to get my hands on the basketball as much as I can playing passing lanes and tracing the ball. I also believe that my IQ is very high and I credit that to the amazing coaches I’ve been blessed to play for my entire life.
Last season as a professional rookie you played for the Surrey Scorchers (United Kingdom-BBL, starting five) playing 35 games: Score-2 (19.4ppg), 3.5rpg, 5.7apg, Steals-4 (1.8spg), FGP-2 (62.0%), 3PT: 36.1%, FT: 81.5% You scored in double figures in 34 of 35 games. What was your secret to being so consistent as a rookie in your first season overseas?
I think I was so consistent just because of the work I’ve put in over the years as well as my competitive nature. We were a middle of the pack team and every game was one we could win or lose. I hate losing so I would just try to do whatever I could to make sure that didn’t happen.
You were lucky to have two class veterans on the squad with Gerald Robinson and Alex Owumi. Owumi has made a name in the United Kingdom BBL and has a very interesting past having played football at Georgetown and having to start at community College before finishing at Alcorn State. How did you view basketball in general after getting to know Owumi?
Alex was an amazing teammate and roommate. He helped me through some of the toughest times while I was there, almost like a big brother. I am sometimes too serious of a person and he always knew how to lighten my mood personally. I think that my game has grown mentally more than anything over the past years and he has definitely helped with that.
You had a great rookie season with Surrey, but how tough was losing that last game to Glasgow and shooting only 3/13? How much did that game motivate you to step up your game even more this summer during the grind?
That was a very tough game to end my season on. However, I never try to let one game or thing define how I move as a person. I work extremely hard no matter if I win or lose every game.
You played at Pennsylvania (NCAA) from 2012-2015. You didn’t have much success as a team, but nevertheless what were your sweetest moments in your three years there?
My best moments there were the connections I had with my teammates and most importantly my coaches. That staff was one that is unlike any other I’ve ever been a part of in terms of how much they actually cared about us players. That is not common and definitely something I never took for granted. I love them all.
How important was head coach Jerome Allen for your early development as a player at Pennsylvania (NCAA). What in your mind were the most important things he taught you early on that has made you the professional that you are today?
‘Pooh’ was everything for me. A role model and someone I look at as a father figure. What he has accomplished in his life, where he comes from is very special and I always felt like if I could get to where he is in life, then I am very successful. We talk all the time still and I can ask him for anything to this day. I thank God for putting him in my life.
Who won a one on one in practice you or Miles Jackson-Cartwright?
We never played 1v1 honestly but he was a big brother for me while at Penn. Someone that I will cherish for the rest of my life, NO MATTER WHAT.
After three years with Pennsylvania (NCAA) you quit the team, because you didn’t mesh well with new head coach Steve Donahue’s offense .Do you ever look back how your senior year may have gone had you remained?
I never look back on that decision. To be completely honest I feel like it was a decision that was somewhat put upon me and I had to make. But I do not regret it one bit. Everything happens for a reason.
You were at Louisville for two years and played 23 games averaging 3,7ppg. It was the last season of head coach Rick Pitino. What kind of experience was this and despite not playing much what did you value most about the presence of rick Pitino?
Coach P challenged me more than anyone has in my life. We had a few conversations that I will NEVER FORGET. I just appreciate the opportunity to learn and play for such a fine institution and city like Louisville. One of the most challenging years of my life, but I would not be where I am without him or that year in general. He completely changed my mindset, and I am not sure that he even knows that, but he knows exactly what conversations I’m speaking about. I’m forever grateful.
You played against all the top basketball schools like Kentucky, Duke and scored 7 points in 15 minutes in your last game against Michigan. You also had a good game against E Kentucky. What was your most memorable game at Louisville?
My most memorable game was one we lost. But I played the most minutes and played my best, at Florida St. in a top 5 matchup. It was an electric environment to play in and a game that validated my abilities as a high level PG for myself personally
You were teammates with future Utah Jazz Donovan Mitchell. What was the most challenging thing about guarding him in practice and what is your nicest memory with him?
His strength driving to the basket is tough to defend if you are smaller. He is basketball strong and has a low center of gravity. But I appreciate most how Donnie would encourage me when I had some of my toughest times that year. I really learned a lot from him mentally, again I’ve told him this but I don’t know if he truly knows how much of an impact he’s had on me as a person. Donovan is the player he is because of the person he is. Period.
You played against so many great players at the NCAA level, but which player was your toughest opponent that is in the NBA now?
Christian James (CJ) McCollum scored the easiest 25pts against us my freshman year I’ve ever been a part of. It was child’s play.
If you had to construct your very own NBA Rushmore which 4 heads would you pick old or new?
Jordan, Kobe, Shaq, Iverson
What is your personal opinion of the never ending debate about who is better Lebron or Jordan?
I’m all about winning. So Jordan. But it just depends on the person I guess. I just can’t compare someone who never lost in the finals, never even going to a game 7.
Tracy Mcgrady said that the Boston Celtics will be the Golden State Warriors of the future. Do you see that happening?
I totally agree. I’ve met their coaching staff in Boston this past year when they played in London and from what I have read and heard about GS they seem very identical. And they have many players who can dribble, pass, shoot, and love to defend, just like the Warriors.
Deandre Ayton was the #1 NBA draft pick in 2018. Do you feel that from sheer talent and experience that Luca Doncic should have been the real #1 draft pick?
If we are going off experience I would say yes Doncic deserves it. But Ayton is a once in a generation talent with his size and athletic abilities
Lebron James makes amazing passes in every game, but really showcased it in a game this season against the Los Angeles Lakers. He already is like a point guard, but if he played just point guard and concentrated only on playmaking how many assists do you feel would he average per game?
He could average a triple double if he really focused on it. But it’s clear that he paces himself and teams which is very smart because nobody will ever win vs. Father Time.
What was the last movie that you saw?
The First Purge.
Thanks Tony for the chat.