The Fraport Skyliners Point Guard Expectations Are Always High But Anthony Hickey´s Scouting Report Fits Well

It´s been almost 24 years, but for the older generation the OJ Simpson trial remains a time where pretty much everyone remembers where they were when the verdict was called and there were also numerous memories from the trial that stuck out. One of those was the famous Johnnie Cochrane line “if it doesn´t fit, you must acquit”. He was referring to the glove that visibly was too small for the massive hand of OJ Simpson. The Simpson lawyer there pretty much described that if the glove didn´t fit then there is no way that the ex football great could have committed the crime and must be not guilty. So what does all this ancient but unforgettable trivia have to do with the Fraport Skyliners point guard discussion? Really nothing, except for the key word fit when concerning new point guard Anthony Hickey, one should not jump to early non researched conclusions and condemn the veteran player about his abilities. The season is still months away, but people have had the audacity to already judge him merely from where he has played and from his abilities, but shouldn´t the guy get a fair chance to show his goods on the court first? The Fraport Skyliners recently completed their 20th season and will be going into their 21ist season with American Anthony Hickey running the point. Over their stellar history, the club granted have had their great finds like Pascal Roller, Dashaun Wood, Justin Cobbs or a Jordan Theodore to name just a few, but also have been plagued by busts, but that is a common occurrence with every organization. Sometimes it just fits and sometimes it just doesn´t. In the case of Anthony Hickey the early scouting report fits so please don´t condemn the guy. He surely is no Jordan Theodore, but the guy has put up respectable stats in his career, has experience and displayed good point guard qualities in the Greek league and put up decent numbers against the two Euroleague powerhouse teams Athens and Olympiakos. Sometimes you don´t always have to reach out to the coaching staff of the players new team, but just inquire about some needy insight from a guy like Toddrick Gotcher who has played against him numerous times at the professional level and even in the NCAA. He is a 26 year old 190cm guard that had a stellar career at Texas Tech and as a rookie was the fifth best scorer in the Greek A-1 league with ASA Koroivos Amaliadas, played a season with Cholet Basket (France-ProA) and is going into his second season with Ifestos Limnou (Greece-A1).

            Anthony Hickey is a 26 year old 180cm point guard from Hopkinsville, Kentucky that will be entering his fifth professional season and first with the Fraport Skyliners. The American played at Christian County High School winning the state title as a senior and winning the prestigious Kentucky Mr Basketball were he is in illustrious company with guys like ex Bamberg forward Darius Miller and ex NBA greats like Rex Chapman, Allan Houston, Darryl Griffith or Wes Unseld. He played three seasons at LSU best known for having Shaq parade up and down the floor back in the day and as a freshman already showed that he could compete with the best of the best netting 10 points, 3 rebounds, 4 assists and 5 steals in a tough 61-50 loss to Kentucky playing against 7 future NBA players like Anthony Davis, Darius Miller, Terence Jones and Michael Gilchrist just to name a few.  As a sophomore he had steady stats averaging 11,2ppg, 3,5rpg and 3,8apg while getting almost 3 steals per contest third best in the NCAA that season. He registered 8 steals against Texas A& M and 7 steals against UCSB. He suffered a tough 75-70 loss against Kentucky, but played very well again netting 15 points against future NBA players Nerlens Noel and Archie Goodwin. In his junior season he averaged 8.4ppg, 2.8rpg, 3.7apg, 1.8spg, FGP: 36.8%, 3PT: 34.4%, FT: 57.5% and even if he went 1-2 against powerhouse Kentucky, he had two very good games including 11 points, 2rebounds, 6 assists and 3 steals in a 87-82 victory, and a 20 point, 5 rebounds, 8 assists and 2 steals in a brutal 77-76 OT loss. He left the school averaging 2,5spg in his three years there and then got further experience at Oklahoma State (NCAA) playing 32 games averaging 9.8ppg, 4.2rpg, 3.4apg, 2.0spg, FGP: 45.9%, 3PT: 40.0%, FT: 41.4%. He finished his NCAA career at Oklahoma State playing 32 games averaging 9.8ppg, 4.2rpg, 3.4apg, 2.0spg, FGP: 45.9%, 3PT: 40.0%, FT: 41.4%.

            He began his professional career in 2015 that has carried him to countries like Poland, Cyprus and Greece. He has been a solid scorer everywhere and a lethal scorer in Poland where as a rookie with Asseco Gdynia (Poland-TBL) he played 34 games averaging 14.1ppg, 3.4rpg, 2.8apg, Steals-5(1.8spg), FGP: 50.8%, 3PT: 33.5%, FT: 52.8% and in his third professional season with Spojnia Stargard (Poland-EBL) played 15 games: Score-2(21.1ppg), 5.0rpg, 4.1apg, Steals-1(2.3spg), FGP: 56.9%, 3PT: 37.1%, FT: 57.1%. He was also on fire in his sophomore campaign in Cyprus with Enosis Neon Paralimni (Cyprus-Division A) playing 20 games: Score-1(18.8ppg), 5.6rpg, 4.5apg, Steals-1(3.3spg), FGP: 54.8%, 3PT: 31.3%, FT: 58.0%. He had a 37 point explosion against APOP in a tough 76-74 loss. He was solid in Greece in his second season with AS Apollon Patras (Greece-A1) playing 25 games averaging 9.2ppg, 3.4rpg, 2.5apg, Steals-2(1.9spg), FGP: 36.2%, 3PT: 34.2%, FT: 51.6% and hit PAOK for 26 points. He now comes to Frankfurt and the strong easyCredit BBL having finished last season having to go to Greece in mid season and flourished with Rethymno Cretan Kings (Greece-A1) playing 12 games averaging 12.9ppg, 3.9rpg, 5.3apg, 2.5spg, FGP: 51.6%, 3PT: 28.1%, FT: 52.9% and had a rare triple double of 14 points, 10 boards and 16 dimes against Kolossos HH to boast when he arrives in Germany.

            Even If Toddrick Gotcher and Anthony Hickey never played together on the same team, they have battled numerous times in their careers and the Dallas native remembers his first meeting with the new Skyliner and was immediately impressed with his skill set. “We played against each other in Greece that first year and I remembered him from college. My first impression was he is a lightning quick guard that can defend the basketball. He can get his shot off at anytime. Plays with a good pace”, stressed Toddrick Gotcher. Hickey is a player that can fill up the stat sheet with ease especially the steal category and is a player that is unknown in Germany to the normal fan, but it didn´t take Gotcher long to find the perfect comparison to an NBA player for the new Skyliner to give a better idea of what type of player he is. “If I were to do a comparison, I would likely compare him to Eric Bledsoe. Strong and can defend and get to his spots”, added Toddrick Gotcher.  There has been a special kind of respect from Gotcher for Hickey as being opponents and watching his game grow from a far in his first in Greece. “What I knew he was an all around player and could help his teams win with whatever he has to do. The Greek team benefited because they needed him to handle the ball and create for others. He did a good job of doing that for them”, expressed Toddrick Gotcher.

                When looking at the game and stats of Hickey, one quickly notices his scoring abilities, but he also gives 100% on the defensive end and can be a game changer at both ends of the court. “He can definitely score the basketball. He also is a willing passer that creates for his teammates. He will slash and finish at a high percentage inside the paint”, stressed Toddrick Gotcher.  His three pointer continues to be a work in progress, but he has had his moments. He shot 40% from the parking lot in his senior season at Oklahoma State and as a professional has always been between 30% and 35%, but last season for his last team in Greece with the Rethymno Cretan Kings shot only 28%. Gotcher has confidence that the American will pick up his shooting as he continues to get more experience and opportunities. “I think he will become a better shooter over time. Once he sees shoots go in, then his confidence builds and he makes more”, warned Toddrick Gotcher. But he doesn´t only excel on the offensive end, but is an aggressive defender that could of fit well into Pedro Calles´s system in Vechta, but with Frankfurt will surely form a fierce nasty duo with freak athlete Quantez Robertson. It isn´t only his quickness that helps him excel on the defensive end, but his mentality of wanting to always make a difference with his aggressiveness. Gotcher also knows what makes him stand out from the rest and why he isn´t just a good defender, but a great defender. “Always being in the right spot makes you a good defender. Whether it is on help side or on the ball. If you are in the right spot, it always helps you become a great defender”, warned Toddrick Gotcher. After playing against him many times and watching him, he also knows how else he will help Frankfurt excel at one of their strengths with the fast break. “He is a good rebounder for a guard. And once he gets the rebound, he can start the fast break which is good for the team”, added Toddrick Gotcher. The two Americans played against each other the last time on April 13th, 2019 and Hickey got the slim exciting 80-77 win over Ifestos and Gotcher pouring home 19 points, hauling down 5 rebounds and dishing out 5 assists. “He played an amazing game and we didn’t guard each other, but it is still team defense. But he did his part to help his team win”, added Toddrick Gotcher. This time had been an amazing stretch for Hickey as he had achieved that rare triple double in the Greek A-1 league the game before the win over Gotcher. “The triple double did surprise me. There are not too many players that can get a triple double. So it is always impressive to see. He is very versatile on both ends of the floor”, stressed Toddrick Gotcher. Gotcher played against him in the NCAA as well as at the professional level and has had a real pleasure following his development and has seen progression in his game over the years. “He has developed in all areas. He understands the game better and makes plays every game now”, expressed Toddrick Gotcher. A big goal of Toddrick Gotcher is to play in the easyCredit BBL one day, but that will have to wait at least one more year as he is returning back to Greece A-1 this season, but he will never forget his duels with Hickey and hopes to resume them in the future. “My fondest moment is just battling with him in games and talking a little trash to get the best out of each other. I love to compete”, warned Toddrick Gotcher.

It is mid July as I reach current team Canada associate coach and Fraport Skyliners consultant Gordon Herbert in Vancouver, Canada as he is relaxing with his parents before the preparations begin for the 2019 World Cup in China. The 2004 BBL champion didn´t have much input in the acquisition of Anthony Hickey as he was sent a tape of the player about a month ago and was asked to give current head coach Sebastian Gleim the plus and minuses of the new player and that was about it. Getting the right fit at the point guard in the easyCredit BBL can be as difficult as predicting which of the new formed NBA teams with the super stars with Brooklyn, both L.A teams and Houston will do the best this upcoming season. The Fraport Skyliners have had some real fortune picking up the right players in their 20 year history, but also had misfortune with the wrong choices like Kwame Vaughn a few years ago. A very talented player in his own right who has had success as a professional, but with the Fraport Skyliners was unable to lead the team to the playoffs. Gordon Herbert has seen both sides with the fits and non fits in his coaching career and takes the successes and failures in strides as a part of the business. “We take risks with the budget that we have. Sometimes the player works out and sometimes he doesn´t. In the case of Anthony Hickey no one will know until we see the kid play. Then people can make their judgements. It´s all about how well the player fits into the team with his skill set and toughness. There are always a lot of variables. Some kids don´t play well in one system, but play better in another and vice versa. Dashaun Wood also started off slowly with us and then got going”, warned Gordon Herbert. Toddrick Gotcher is confident that Hickey´s time has come for the easyCredit BBL. “I think he is ready and he will make a great impact for the team. I know he is ready to showcase what he can do as a player in the BBL”, warned Toddrick Gotcher. 24 years ago the glove didn´t fit giving OJ Simpson a huge advantage in his hopes of being acquitted and in 2019-2020 the Fraport Skyliners hope that Anthony Hickey will not only fit into their system well but have another type of steal at the point guard position like they did 10 seasons ago with Dashaun Wood.  

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