The pace has fallen behind on the Bearcats Blog countdown. That's why there are going to be 7 entries as we tie up the list this week. No more talking. The 7th person on the list is one of our recent favorites. Recently being the last 7 years. Good lord, this season will be 7 years since Eric Hicks was a Bearcat. It does not seem that long ago at all. That's the thing about time, it moves slowly, but it also moves very quickly. You can listen to lots of indy songs, like one by the Shins, that say the years seem short but the days go slowly by. That's so true. I bet Eric Hicks agrees. Those long days of practice probably blew a lot, but the 4 years he spent as a Cincinnati Bearcat absolutely flew by. It would be awesome if I could have gotten Eric Hicks to respond to that. But instead,
Eric Hicks came to Cincinnati as a top 100 recruit by everyone. Some services had him top 40, others top 50, ESPN had him top 88. Hicks came to UC in the 2002-03 season. This was at the time when young big men had to come in and grow as players during their 4 seasons. That's what Bobby Brannen did, it's what Kenyon did, it's what Jason Maxiell did, and it's what Eric Hicks did. And all of them made this list. It was a good system. Mainly because it was a system filled with great players.
Eric played 26 of the 29 games the Bearcats played his freshman season. He missed most of the tight games and losses during the non-conference season. Hicks had some scoring ability in high school, but it didn't immediately translate to college. He didn't score on any of his first 3 field goal attempts spread out over the first 3 games. He scored his first point the second game of the season on a free throw. He had 3 rebounds. He scored 2 free throws in the 3rd game, with 4 rebounds. He blocked his first shot against Valpo. Hicks played 19 minutes against LaSalle and had his best game. He made his first field goal. He had 3 points, 4 rebounds and 3 blocks. Eric got 21 minutes against UTC. He responded with 10 points on 5-7, 8 rebounds and 3 blocks. He had 6-6-2 in his first conference game against DePaul. He had 6-6-2 against TCU.
Eric didn't score the next 3 games. He had 4 rebounds and 2 blocks against St Louis, but just 1 block over the next 2 games. Hicks had 6 and 2 blocks against Charlottle, but 2 minutes against DePaul. After 3 against Marquette, Hicks had 5 boards and 2 blocks against Louisville. Eric put up 6-7 in the UC win over Oklahoma State. He had 6 rebounds in each of the next two games, before showing off his overall game against Louisville. He had 5 points, 4 rebounds, 2 assists and 2 blocks. He had another 6 rebounds game in the following contest. That was about it for Hicks that season outside of a 6 block game against Southern Miss in the C-USA tournament.
The freshman season numbers for Hicks were alright. He was 24-54, 44% from the field. He missed his only 3 attempt. He was 16-34, 47% at the foul line. It was his career low. Hicks scored 64 points that season. He had 93 rebounds, 33 blocks, 5 assists and 2 steals. He averaged 2.5 points, 3.6 rebounds, and 1.3 blocks. It was a solid season.
Eric Hicks gathered more minutes his sophomore season, although not really at first. He played 13 in the opener, going 1-5, 2 points with 6 rebounds. Hicks put up his first double double against Oakland. He scored 11 points on 5-5 shooting, 1-8 FTs, with 10 rebounds, 2 assists and 3 steals. He did nothing the next two games before filling out the stat sheet against Clemson with 8 points, 7 rebounds, 2 assists, 2 blocks and 1 steal. That was followed with 12 points, on 4-5, 8 rebounds, 2 steals and 2 blocks. Hicks had back to back to back 7 rebound games, he changed it up with 6 points against UD, 0 against Miami and 13 against Elon. He blocked 4 shots against Elon. Eric had 4-5-2 assists-2 steals-2 blocks as UC kicked off conference play with a win over Tulane. He scored 7 against DePaul.
It had been a while since Hicks had a double double, so he put one down on Marquette. In 24 minutes, he scored 15 points on 6-7 shooting and pulled in 10 rebounds. 6 of those were offensive rebounds. He scored 9 the following game, 5-6 FTs, but just 2 in a loss to Louisville. He had 5-6 in 15 minutes against Southern Miss and 11-6 in 15 minutes against Charlotte. Eric left it all on the floor in the Crosstown Shootout. He scored 10 points on 3-5, 4-7 FTs. He had 9 rebounds, blocked 8 shots, made 3 steals and dished out 1 assist. It wasn't enough and UC lost, but Hicks showed off his ability to put up triple double numbers. He nearly did it against Louisville in the following game. He scored 10 points to go with 14 rebounds and 6 blocks. Showing that his game still had some growing pains, Hicks combined for 6-7-2 blocks the next 2 games.
Hicks closed the season pretty well. He scored 10 on 4-5 against DePaul, had 11-5 against Memphis and 7-7 against Louisville. The Louisville game was the first game of the C-USA tournament. Eric had 6-6 in the semifinal win over St Louis. He helped UC to a 55-50 win over DePaul in the championship with 10 points and 9 rebounds, 7 of those offensive. Hicks thrived in his first taste of NCAA tournament action. He scored 14 points on 6-11 shooting, with 8 rebounds and 2 blocks against East Tennessee State. He had an alright stat line, 8-6, but it didn't matter as UC was humiliated by Illinois.
The growth of Eric Hicks was clear from season one to season two. He was more assertive offensively, going 82-139, 59% from the field. He was just 54-102, 53% at the foul line. He scored 218 points. He pulled in 179 rebounds, blocked 38 shots, made 21 steals and dished out 13 assists. Hicks' line was 7 points, 5.8 rebounds, 1.2 blocks, and 0.7 steals. His 1.2 blocks was very good, but it was his career low. The steals were a career high to end things on a positive note.
Eric Hicks didn't start every game of his junior season, but he played 31 minutes a game anyway, so it didn't matter. He started the year off as an ass kicking machine. Eric put 18, 6-8 FGs and 6-8 FTs, 9 boards, 2 assists, 2 steals and 2 blocks up in the season opener. That was followed with 16, on just 6-17, 13 rebounds and 3 blocks in the Northern Iowa game. He had another double double with 11, 7-8 FTs, and 10, with 4 blocks, against Purdue. Hicks had 'only' 8 points, 9 boards, 2 blocks, 1 steal and 1 assist against Dayton, but responded with 14, 5-9 FGs, 4-5 FTs, 4 blocks and 3 steals against Vanderbilt. Hicks posted another double double, this time 11-11, with 3 blocks, against Northwestern St. Hicks scored 18 on 7-10 shooting, with 6 boards and 15, 5-14, and 7 boards the next 2 games. He blocked 2 shots in both of those games.
Hicks could be a dominant player. Miami found that out the hard way. Eric was just 5-10 from the field, but he was 11-14 from the foul line to score 21 points against the Redhawks. He chipped in 17 rebounds for his 4th double double of the season to that point. He had another 2 blocks as well. There would be no double doubles in the Illinois rematch, as UC was drilled again. Hicks scored 8 with 8 boards. He had 8 with 7 boards when UC beat DePaul. He had 7 rebounds, 6 points and 3 blocks against St Louis, before busting out with 12 and 6 against ECU. He had a bad game against Louisville, 8 points on 2-8, with 6 boards and 4 blocks, in a loss. He had a better 8 point game against Charlotte by going 3-4 and pulling in 13 rebounds and blocking 3 shots.
From the Wake Forest game to the end of the year, Eric Hicks scored in single digits twice. It was like a switch was hit after his mini slump. Against Wake, Hicks put up 18 on 6-14 shooting, 5-5 at the line and 3 blocks. He had 19, 9-14 FTs, 11 boards and 4 blocks for another double double. Eric had 11-9 against Houston, but went off on Louisville to the tune of 21 points on 9-10 shooting, 3-4 FTs, with 8 rebounds and 5 blocks. UC lost though. They also lost to Charlotte, even though Hicks had 20 points on 8-12 shooting. Hicks was determined to not lose to Xavier again, so he put 16 and 14 on the Muskies. 10 of those rebounds were on the offensive end. Impressive. UC was crushed by DePaul, but Hicks was the only player who scored. He had 22 on 10-11 from the field and 7 boards. He was 9-14 for 18 points and 12 rebounds in a win over Southern Miss. Hicks had 9 offensive rebounds as part of his 13 total, to go with 9 points in a win over UAB. Eric just missed out on a double double against Marquette, 17 and 9, before not doing much at all, 6-4-3 blocks, against TCU. Hicks closed the regular season with back to back double doubles. He had 10-10 against Tulane, 12-11 against Memphis. In the final C-USA tournament game, he had 18, 8-13, 8 boards and 3 blocks. He put up 10-9 against Iowa in the first round of the NCAA tournament. In the big game against Kentucky, Hicks had 12 points, but on 4-12 shooting. He pulled in 10 boards, 7 offensive, for his 10th double double of the season.
The transformation into a great player was complete for Eric Hicks. He was 162-312, 52% from the field. He hit 4 of 16 from 3. He was 110-188, 58.5% at the foul line, still not good but improving. That was good for 438 points. He pulled in 287 rebounds, blocked 72 shots, had 24 assists and 15 steals. His stat line was 13.7, 9, 2.3 blocks, 0.8 assists. Hicks received 3rd team All Conference USA honors.
Things kept taking off for Eric Hicks. He started the season with a double double, 18-10, in an OT win over Murray State. Hicks shot 6-15 though. He was 4-12 the next game, but with 11 boards, 3 blocks, 3 assists and 2 steals, and 2-9 the game after that, 5 boards, 3 blocks, 3 assists, 2 steals. He was rough from the field again, 9-19, 18 points with 8 rebounds, in a loss to Dayton. Hicks had a 15 point, 14 rebound double double against Memphis, but on 3-11 from the field. He was 9-14 at the line and had 3 blocks in the loss. Things started getting better. He was 4-9, 13 points with 8 boards against Vandy. He was 4-7 for 8 points, with 9 rebounds, 5 blocks, 3 steals and 2 assists against Ohio. Things were just getting started.
Tennessee Tech isn't expected to have a good front line since front line players are normally gobbled up by good programs. This was a problem for Tennessee Tech because Cincinnati had Eric Hicks and they didn't. Hicks scored 19 points on 8-11 shooting, pulled in 7 rebounds and blocked 5 shots. Arkansas-Monticello had the same problem, as Hick dropped 15 on 5-8, with 6 boards and 3 blocks on them. Hicks only played 22 minutes in the Dayton rematch. He scored 10 with 3 boards adn 2 blocks. He bounced back and took control against LSU. Hicks scored 21 points on 9-13 shooting, 7 boards, 3 blocks to boot, in a 75-72 win. He was 5-7 for 11 points with 9 boards and 4 blocks in a win over Miami. Remember the problem Tennessee Tech had at the beginning of this paragraph? North Carolina A&T had it too. Hicks abused them for 24 points on 11-14 shooting. He had 10 rebounds and 7 blocks just because he could.
The Bearcats kicked off their first Big East action with familiar faces. DePaul was first up. Hicks greeted them into the Big East with 20 points and 15 rebounds. He was 9-17 from the field and 12 of his rebounds were offensive.
Eric Hicks placed his name in the Cincinnati history books during the next game against Marquette. He scored 22 points, pulled in 12 rebounds and blocked 10 shots for the 15th triple double in Cincinnati history. Hicks was the 5th man to pull off the honor. He was 9-13 from the field, 3-5 at the foul line, 1-2 from 3. 7 of his 12 rebounds were offensive. The 10 blocks were a career high. He also had 2 assists and 1 steal.
UC took their first Big East loss the next game, but it was a near triple double for Hicks. He shot poorly, 6-15, to get his 14 points, but he had 11 rebounds and blocked 7 shots. He was a non-factor, 9-7, in the UC loss to Syracuse. He had a solid 12 point, 9 rebound, 7 block stat line against Xavier, but his 5-12 shooting contributed to the loss. He was just 4-13 from the floor against Rutgers, but 5-8 FTs helped him to 13 points. Added with his 12 rebounds and Hicks had another double double. Eric did it again versus Louisville. He was 6-11 for 15 points and pulled in 17 rebounds, 10 offensive. But UC lost 67-50. He was the only one doing things. A notable thing happened in this game. Eric Hicks broke the 1,000 point mark.
Eric had 13-9-4 blocks in a loss to Georgetown and 13-11-6 blocks in a win over USF. He went off against West Virgina with 22 points on 11-14 shooting, 10 rebounds and 3 blocks, but UC lost again. He was 2-7 from the field against Louisville, but 10-10 at the foul line for 14 points. He had 12 rebounds for another double double against the Cards. Hicks was a perfect 6-6 at the line, but 4-12 from the field, for 15 points in a loss to Pitt. He scored just 8 against Syracuse in the rematch, but dominated with his defense. he pulled down 11 rebounds and blocked 5 shots. Eric had one of the worst shooting games of his life vs Providence. He was 1-13 for 3 points. He chipped in 9 boards and 4 blocks in the 2 point win. He had 9 boards and 4 blocks the following game, but he stepped up the offense by going 7-11 from the field and 7-10 from the foul line for 21 points. He took 11 shots the next game, but made just 3. UC lost both of those game.
West Virginia came to town on senior day. It was a must win for UC. With Bob Huggins in the house, Hicks was 7-11 from the field and 3-4 from the foul line for 18 points. He had 8 rebounds as well in the 78-75 win. The Bearcats matched up with Syracuse in the Big East tournament. It was thought of as a bubble buster. Hicks had 17-12, but you know what happened. Hicks was only 5-10 from the foul line in that game. The Cats headed to the NIT to face off with old foe Charlotte. Eric loved the reunion. He was 7-15, 8-11 FTs, for 23 points. He pulled in 18 rebounds and blocked 4 shots. Minnesota got 23 put on them as well, this time on 9-14 shooting. Hicks made 2 three pointers, which is notable because it was the first time he ever did that. He pulled in 11 boards for his 13th double double of the season. He blocked 4 shots too. That was significant. His second block pushed him past Kenyon Martin and into the all time lead for blocks in a season. UC was hit by suspensions 1 game from going to New York. Hicks did his best against South Carolina, 22 points on 7-15 shooting, 6-8 FTs, 2-3 from 3, 8 rebounds, 3 blocks, 2 assists and 1 steal, and he played all 40 minutes. But UC lost 65-62 and his career was over.
Eric Hicks had a tremendous senior season. he was 192-401, 48% from the field. He was 13-27, 48% from 3. He was 114-173, 66% at the foul line. He scored 511 points. Hicks pulled in 329 rebounds. He blocked 113 shots. He had 29 assists and 19 steals. His stat line was 15 points, 9.7 rebounds, 3.3 blocks and 0.9 assists. For that great season, Hicks was the first Bearcat named First Team All-Big East. As mentioned, the blocks are a UC record.
Hicks finished his UC career with 1,231 points. He is second all time with 236 blocked shots. He pulled in 888 rebounds. His career line is 10 points, 7.2 rebounds, 2.1 blocks, 0.6 assists and 0.5 steals.
Why He Made the List
Eric Hicks grew into a leader. He was the heart and soul for the Bearcats his junior and senior seasons. He could change games with his offense or he could change games with his defense. When shots were put up, Eric Hicks was hell bent on getting them. It's rare these days to see someone get better and better and better and better all 4 seasons, but Eric Hicks did that. He was a tremendous player.
What He's Doing Now
Eric plays in Europe and Asia according to his twitter bio. He also loves fishing. You can follow him @EcHicks14. He's also very happy about making the list.