• 50°

NBA: Hickson goes to Cavs

By Tom Withers
Associated Press
INDEPENDENCE, Ohio ó The Cleveland Cavaliers got younger. Only time will tell if they’re any better.
With the 19th pick in the NBA draft, they took a 19-year-old project.
Needing an injection of young blood for their aging frontcourt, the Cavs selected N.C. State’s J.J. Hickson, a 6-foot-9 forward.
While touting Hickson’s athleticism, work ethic and ability to play in the post or outside, general manager Danny Ferry acknowledged that Hickson is an unfinished player.
“He’s kind of an uncarved block,” Ferry said.
Hickson averaged 14.8 points and 8.5 rebounds in his only college season. He led the ACC in field-goal percentage (.591) and ranked sixth in blocks.
When commissioner David Stern announced from the stage in New York that Hickson was headed for Cleveland, the Atlanta native didn’t know what to think.”I was lost for words,” Hickson said.
With Zydrunas Ilgauskas (33 years old), Joe Smith (33) and Ben Wallace (34) getting older, it was time to infuse some young legs up front.
“Bringing a young big into our group is important considering the age of our bigs,” Ferry said. “Some young blood in there was important for us. He’s a guy we had ranked real high all year. He’s a hard worker. He’s one of those guys who gets up at 6 a.m. to get to the gym. He’s a quality kid with a great background and talent.
“He can play with his back to the basket. He will be a work in progress. He has a lot to learn. He’s a young kid, and it’s our job to put him in the best position to succeed over the next 12 to 18 months.”
Hickson was one of eight players with just one year of college experience taken in the first 19 picks.
Coming off their first trip to the NBA finals, the Cavaliers finished 45-37 last season. They were ravaged by injuries, and then Ferry overturned his roster at the Feb. 21 trading deadline by dealing half of his active roster in two separate deals.
Still, the Cavs won one playoff series and pushed the Boston Celtics to seven games before losing in the Eastern Conference semifinals.
Cleveland’s timeline to win an NBA title could be narrowing. Superstar LeBron James is eligible for free agency following the 2010 season, and his possible departure will hang over the club for the next two seasons.
Hickson said he’s eager to play alongside James, whom he called “the best athlete in the league” and someone he can learn from.
“I’m going to be a sponge and soak it up,” Hickson said.
Earlier this week, Ferry said this year’s draft was deep at power forward and center. With Ohio State’s Kosta Koufous and Kansas’ Darrell Arthur still on the board, the Cavs opted for Hickson, a player they hope can help them immediately but one they are willing to groom to become a “solid rotational player.”
Ferry was reluctant to guess how long it might take Hickson to be ready to help.
“I don’t want to put a hard, set timeline on anyone, but I want to be respectful that this kid just finished his first year of college,” Ferry said. “He will have to learn, a lot to grow with and a lot to improve on. He’s a kid who has the talent, physically. He has the focus to work and grow, and he’s a kid I feel comfortable with, with where we were picking.”
The selection of Hickson gave the ACC at least one first-round pick for the 20th straight year.

Comments

Comments closed.

Education

RSS superintendent talks district’s future, strategic plan survey

News

Complaints and fines pile up against unpermitted landfill in southwest Rowan County

College

Catawba baseball: Crowd comes out to say goodbye to Newman Park

Lifestyle

History is a great teacher: Farming has helped shape Rowan County

Business

‘A safe place for them’: Timeless Wigs and Marvelous Things celebrates fifth anniversary

China Grove

County will hear request for more tree houses, hobbit-style homes in China Grove

Coronavirus

Livingstone College partners with Health Department to administer 500 Pfizer vaccinations

Education

‘Elite and it shows’: Staff at Partners in Learning at Novant celebrate news of national accreditation

Business

Biz Roundup: Food Lion earns Energy Star award for 20th consecutive year

Columns

Ester Marsh: What body type are you?

Nation/World

The queen says goodbye to Philip, continues her reign alone

Nation/World

Worldwide COVID-19 death toll tops a staggering 3 million

Nation/World

US, China agree to cooperate on climate crisis with urgency

Nation/World

Sikh community calls for gun reforms after FedEx shooting

High School

North Rowan romps into second round of football playoffs

Nation/World

FBI had interviewed former FedEx employee who killed eight

Crime

Gastonia man sentenced for crash into restaurant that killed his daughter, daughter-in-law

Nation/World

Some call for charges after video of police shooting 13-year-old in Chicago

Business

State unemployment rate falls to 5.2% in March

Coronavirus

NASCAR approach to virus vaccine varies greatly

News

Judge rejects Cherokee challenge against new casino in Kings Mountain

Elections

Jackson tops NC Senate fundraising; Walker coffers also full

Local

Kiwanis Pancake Festival serves thousands of flapjacks for charity

Coronavirus

Rowan remains in state’s middle, yellow tier for COVID-19 community spread