Hicks Ready for Competition in Japan

July 16, 1999

Peter Ross
Daily Mississippian Senior Staff Writer

U-WIRE

OXFORD-Miss.--Senior forward Marcus Hicks will be seeking respect when he travels with the Southeastern Conference men's basketball all-star team to Japan Aug. 5-15 to compete against the Japanese National Team.

Hicks, a 6-foot-6-inch, 215- pound forward led the Rebels in blocks and field goal percentage last season, while his 11.7 points per game was third best on the Rebel squad. Hicks is excited about the opportunity to play in Japan.

"It is a great honor to be picked as one of the players to represent the SEC," Hicks said.

"I look forward to the experience, and I want to represent Ole Miss, the SEC and the United States in a good way. Other than going to Puerto Rico last year, this will be my first time to leave the U.S. and it will be something that I will remember for a long time."

The SEC All-Star Team, which features one player from each of the 12 league schools, will be coached by Ole Miss' Rod Barnes and LSU head coach John Brady. The SEC All-Stars will play five games under international rules in the "Basketball Universiade Anniversary Cup '99" in five different Japanese cities against the Japan National Team, which will evolve into its Olympic Team for the 2000 Summer Games in Sydney, Australia.

Barnes believes that the experience will be one that will benefit Hicks this upcoming season.

"It is an honor for Marcus and me to be able to represent the conference on this all-star team," Barnes said.

"For Marcus, this trip will be a tremendous opportunity for him to improve his game for the upcoming season. He has a chance to be one of the top players in the league next year, and if he continues to develop his game, he could be one of the best in the nation."

Hicks has a lot of respect for the Japanese team, but Hicks believes that the SEC All-Star Team can win all the games. He is out to gain respect not only for himself, but also for Ole Miss and the SEC.

"I respect their national team, but we have a lot of talent in the SEC to win all five games," Hicks said.

"We (Ole Miss) have been to NCAA Tournament each of the last three years, but people still don't give Ole Miss the respect it deserves. Also the SEC is the best conference, but yet it lacks respect in basketball compared to the Big 10 and the ACC. I want to gain a little respect for Ole Miss and the SEC."

Ole Miss assistant coach Marc Dukes, who also coached Hicks in junior college, believes that people will finally see Hicks' outside game in this tournament-- something that Hicks did not show last season. He believes the competition will help Hicks become a better player.

"It is always a plus whenever you play with the talent he will be playing with in Japan. Marcus has great athletic ability, and handles the ball well for his size," Dukes said.

"This tournament will help Marcus become a more consistent outside shooter and a complete player."

Hicks has been working all summer on improving his shooting and strength. Hicks shot 42 percent from the 3-point line in junior college, but only took a few outside shoots last year at Ole Miss.

Hicks believes that the reason for his lack of outside shooting last season was due to the fact he was playing out of position.

"Last season I was playing a lot of center and power forward, so I had to bang down low a lot," Hicks said.

"I was not able lo play my outside game because of that, but this year I will be able to return to my natural small forward position so I will play both inside and outside. I just want to do whatever it takes to help my team win."

Last season, Hicks helped guide the Rebels to their first NCAA win. The feeling of winning the game against Villanova last season has given Hicks the hunger to return to that position.

"It felt good last season to look up in the crowd and see the Ole Miss fans excited," Hicks said.

"To know that the people in Mississippi were happy was a feeling that I will not forget. It has left a void, where we want to go even farther this year."


 

 

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