College basketball players often fall under the radar after graduating from their respected Colleges. Professional basketball is undoubtedly the goal for many College graduates.
However, taking their ability overseas can be a daunting task for these young men.
Tony Hicks graduated from the University of Louisville earlier this year after finishing his senior year with the Cardinals. Since graduating, he has had time to reflect on the College experience:
“I would describe my four years of playing college basketball a blessing”
“I’ve come so far from someone who really only started playing basketball seriously in High School. To have some of the records and things I’ve done was great, but honestly I would have traded all of that to be a champion”
Hicks transferred from Pennsylvania University to play for the Cardinals during his college career.
“I truly had no intention on transferring at all”
“There was a coaching change and the new coach felt it was best for me to sit out, graduate, and go and play on a much bigger stage as a graduate transfer”
Since finishing College, the 6’1 Guard has been spending a lot of time developing his game ready for his career, despite not really knowing where that would be:
“I went out to LA for a month. I got to workout with Paul George’s brother for an extensive amount of time which was great.”
“Then I came back to Chicago where the competition is always elite before I got ready to leave and come to Europe.”
Hicks went on to explain that the Surrey Scorchers was an ideal opportunity to kick off his professional career.
“After talking to Coach Creon I quickly realized this could be a place to thrive in and use as a springboard for my career. The fact that he understood, was such a bonus and helped seal the deal”
For many American players, the language barrier is often a difficult adaptation to overcome. Hicks expressed his relief that coming to England makes the transition much easier.
“I have friends who are all over Europe, and they constantly talk about how the language barrier can make you feel very lonely at times”
“I’m just very fortunate and blessed to be able to start my career off in an English speaking country as I adapt to the true European lifestyle”
Hicks also spoke about his respect for Coach Creon, and how his honesty since the beginning has been welcoming and refreshing.
“He truly reminds me of my former college basketball coach Jerome Allen, who coaches for the Boston Celtics now”
“I’ll never forget him telling me ‘I understand that it may be difficult to grasp that guys you were playing with are making millions of dollars and you will be coming here making thousands, but if you take advantage of this situation I’m sure that you will be able to reach all of your goals’. For a coach I’ve never met to be that honest and understanding means the world to a player. I couldn’t pass up an opportunity like this”
Tony’s attention now turns to the season ahead with the Surrey Scorchers. The team made the playoffs last season but were eliminated early. Hicks feels confident in the team that they can achieve all of their goals this season:
“All of my teammates have been great on and off the court. Vets like Tayo (Ogedengbe) and Alex (Owumi) have been great and can only help speed up the learning curve into pro basketball”
“I think that every teams goal should be (to win) the championship. We are an entirely new team besides Tayo, so anything that happened last year doesn’t have much bearing on what our goals and expectations should be of ourselves. We will be tough to beat.”
Finally, Hicks highlighted his personal goals for the season ahead:
“Shoot the ball at the highest clip that I ever have, to have an elite assist to turnover ratio, and to lead the league in steals. I think that if I can do those things for our club we will have a great chance to win every night.”
You can watch Tony Hicks and the new-look Surrey Scorchers at their home opener against the Worcester Wolves on Sunday October 15th.