Courtesy UNLV Athletics
Friday, May 5, 2023 | 2 a.m.
For the third straight year under Kevin Kruger, UNLV is bringing in only one true freshman as part of the incoming recruiting class. This time, it’s Brooklyn Hicks, a highlight-reel scorer from Washington state who committed back in the fall of 2022.
Hicks is a 6-foot-3 guard who averaged an absurd 30.9 points per game as a senior and ended his career as his school’s all-time leading scorer, so he can obviously fill it up. But how might that productivity translate to the college game, and more specifically, to UNLV?
From an offensive standpoint, there is a lot to like about Hicks.
I could only find one full Timberline (Lacey, Wash.) game online, so this is all coming from the smallest of sample sizes, but the first thing that stands out when watching Hicks is his quick first step, which he uses to zip past defenders with regularity.
Using that first step appears to be his preferred method of attacking a set defense, but Hicks also has a nice little bag of dribble moves that can help him get opponents off-balance. Most of his scoring attempts came off the dribble, and once he created some space, he wasted no talent getting downhill and into the paint.
There weren’t a lot of examples of Hicks driving all the way to the rim in this game; help defense forced him to settle for floaters and in-between shots, which were hit or miss:
Is Hicks capable of getting to the rim off the dribble? The numbers suggest it’s not an issue, but it’s worth noting. Some of the finishes in that clip were creative, but unlikely to translate to the college level.
There is more dissonance between stats and video when looking at his jump shot. Hicks only made 29.2% from 3-point range as a senior (33-of-113), but the eye test makes him look like a sniper.
Hicks appears to have good form, and in this game he had some smooth catch-and-shoot makes from long range. He also canned a little fadeaway out of a post-up, which has to be a shot he works on regularly.
He was more effective shooting on the catch than off the dribble, but it’s a good stroke:
Perhaps Hicks was asked to shoulder so much of Timberline’s offense that he couldn’t afford to apply good shot selection, thus artificially dragging down his percentages. If he puts in the work, he will likely become a respectable shooter, if not a good one.
Hicks does appear to possess plenty of athleticism to finish inside, with above-the-rim highlights to prove it.
It mostly shows up in transition, when Hicks can get a running start and fly toward the rim. He is a long strider who covers a lot of ground, with or without the ball, so open-court possessions give him a chance to really let loose.
There were a couple times in transition where Hicks threw the ball ahead to set up scoring chances, but teammates were not able to convert.
The main takeaway is how Hicks uses his burst to start the action flowing the other way:
Besides the fast-break stuff, Hicks didn’t do a whole lot of passing in this game. Clearly, Timberline relied on him to score in high volume and assigned him a mandatory green light, but that means he didn’t play much of a point guard role, instead focusing on getting buckets by any means necessary.
On the defensive end, Hicks didn’t make a lot of game-changing plays simply because he wasn’t involved at the point of attack. The opposing team mostly dictated their offense away from him, which was smart strategy.
When Hicks got the chance to impact a play with his athleticism, he did:
Because there was only one game available to view, there are still some outstanding questions about Hicks. Is he a point guard, a shooting guard, or a combo? Can he get to the rim off the dribble? What kind of defender is he? There simply wasn’t enough footage to tell.
But he’s certainly fast, athletic, and in possession of a scorer’s mentality. His transition game will fit in with how Kruger wants to play, and if Hicks can develop his jump shot, he’ll be a good offensive player.
It may take a year or two of refining, but that’s a skill set UNLV can use.