By Joe Henricksen
There weren't many players in the Class of 2012 who improved their stock more this summer than St. Rita's Tony Hicks. Offers came from several mid-major and mid-major plus programs, including Loyola, Dayton and South Florida to name a few, but the combination of basketball and academics was what sealed the deal for Hicks committing to Penn of the Ivy League on Monday.
"Academics, first and foremost, was what set Penn apart from other schools," says Hicks. "Plus, there is a real opportunity for me to contribute as a freshman. There is a great group of guys in the program there. It felt like a family."
While bigger basketball programs were heavily involved, both Hicks and St. Rita coach Gary DeCesare pointed out the recruiting job coach Jerome Allen and his staff did to help secure the Hicks commitment.
"The love they showed him went a long way," DeCesare pointed out. "They really did a great job of recruiting him. They followed him every game in July. And now the opportunities for him are endless with an Ivy League education."
Hicks, who averaged 13 points a game as a sophomore and 16 points a game last season as a junior, wanted to be at a place where he felt wanted.
"They definitely showed that they wanted me," says Hicks. "That was important to me -- to go to a place where I was wanted. They showed that in the beginning and throughout the recruiting process."
Hicks, a 6-1 scoring 2-guard, is a recruiting steal for a Penn program that has struggled a bit the past few years. But Hicks will provide a versatile scoring threat for Allen, who starred at Penn as a player and took over the program as head coach last season. With a lethal first step to get by defenders and an ability to knock shots down, Hicks has the capability of putting points on the board. He's currently among the top 15 prospects in the Hoops Report's Class of 2012 player rankings.
St. Rita, with seniors Hicks and A.J. Avery leading the way, figure to be among the top teams in the Chicago area this season.