The 6-foot-2 Hicks has been a key contributor for the Quakers since his freshman season and led the team in scoring each of the last two seasons. The native of Chicago plans to sit out the 2015-16 season while completing his degree at the school.
“After speaking with Coach Donahue about the best situation for Penn Basketball and myself, I have decided the best decision for me will be to take a break from basketball,” said Hicks in the release. “I plan to graduate from Penn in May, and then take my next step as a basketball player next year. This is a personal decision, and I wrestled long and hard with it because I have thoroughly enjoyed playing for Penn the last three years and wearing the Red and the Blue. I want to wish the guys on the team and the coaches all the best for this season and future seasons, and I will definitely be backing them in The Palestra during these next several months.”
It’s hard to say why Hicks is making this decision, but it will certainly hurt Penn and new head coach Steve Donahue this season. If Hicks graduates, he could become a graduate transfer next season it he opts to leave Penn and stay within college basketball. As a junior, Hicks averaged 13.2 points per game.
Penn hangs on to beat rival Princeton in Ivy League opener (VIDEO)
To say that Jerome Allen’s Penn Quakers had a rough go of it prior to the start of Ivy League play would be an understatement. The Quakers entered Saturday’s game against Princeton with a 2-10 record, with five of the defeats being decided by margins of six points or less. But there is talent on the Penn roster, with that moving the league coaches to pick the Quakers to finish second in the Ivy League’s preseason poll.
So despite their struggles, especially from a health standpoint, Saturday’s Ivy opener against rival Princeton represented a “new beginning” of sorts for the Quakers, and they were able to take advantage. Tony Hicks scored 18 points and Fran Dougherty and Darren Nelson-Henry added 17 apiece to lead Penn to the 77-74 victory at the Palestra, ending a seven-game losing streak in the process.
T.J. Bray led five Princeton players in double figures with 19 points, but their 6-for-21 shooting from beyond the arc and defensive rebounding (Penn rebounded nearly 39% of its missed shots) proved to be problematic for the team that was picked to finish third in the Ivy League preseason poll. With the defeat Princeton drops to 11-3 overall, but by no means should they be dismissed as a possible challenger to reigning champion Harvard.
Penn certainly has some things to clean up, most notably their 19 turnovers on the evening, but the full rotation Allen expected to have on the floor was finally available Saturday. Could their improved health make Penn the Ivy League threat they were projected to be back in October? That remains to be seen, but Saturday’s victory is certainly a step in that direction.
All month long, CBT will be rolling out our 2013-2014 season preview. Check back throughout the day, as we’ll be posting three or four preview items every day.
To browse through the preview posts we’ve already published, click here. To see the rest of the Conference Previews we’ve published, click here. For a schedule of our previews for the month, click here.
Expectations have never been higher for an Ivy League team heading into a season. On the heels of upsetting New Mexico in the 2013 NCAA Tournament, having Kyle Casey and Brandyn Curry rejoin the program, and welcoming the highly-touted recruit Zena Edosomwan to the team, Harvard is the clear-cut favorite to win the Ivy League. Not to mention, the Crimson also return first team all-Ivy players Wesley Saunders and Siyani Chambers, and sharpshooter Laurent Rivard. It is a supremely talented roster that Tommy Amaker, now in his seventh year, has constructed.
It’s hard to see another team seriously challenging the Crimson, but if there is a challenge it will come in the form of the southernmost school in the league, Pennsylvania. After experiencing a great deal of success in 2011-12, registering 20 wins and an 11-3 league record, the Quakers regressed last year, going just 9-22. Miles Jackson-Cartwright and Tony Hicks make for a dynamite backcourt, along with freshman guard Matt Howard – who received offers from BCS schools – who will provide meaningful minutes, as well.
Harvard’s biggest rival, Yale, also figures to be a factor. James Jones, the longest tenured coach in the Ivy League, had the Bulldogs playing their best basketball of the year in the final ten games going 7-3 down the stretch. Plus, they return many of their primary pieces save for guard Austin Morgan.
One of the more intriguing teams in the league who appear to be on the upswing with Mike Martin now at the helm is Brown. Last year’s Defensive Player of the Year, Cedric Kuakumensah, is back for his sophomore season, but losing Tucker Halpern is a big blow for the Bears.
Of course, it would be foolish to think Princeton won’t be in the mix. Despite losing last year’s Player of the Year Ian Hummer, Denton Koon and T.J. Bray return for Mitch Henderson.
PRESEASON IVY LEAGUE PLAYER OF THE YEAR: Wesley Saunders, Harvard
Saunders (16.2 ppg, 4.2 rpg, 3.5 apg, 1.8 spg) made a tremendous jump from his freshman to sophomore season – he had to with Casey and Curry’s absence – and will continue to be a focal point on offense for the Crimson.
FOUR MORE NAMES TO KNOW
G Siyani Chambers, Harvard: The best point guard in the league on the best team in the league.
G Tony Hicks, Pennsylvania: May lead the league in scoring as a sophomore after averaging 15.3 ppg in league games last season.
F Shonn Miller, Cornell: Nobody fills up a box score quite like Miller who averaged nearly two steals and blocks last year.
F Cedric Kuakumensah, Brown: A menace on the defensive end who will only improve offensively.