Freddy Hicks of Searcy has been around basketball all his life. His father was an outstanding player for the Arkansas State Indians from 1995-99.
Hicks, a 2020 graduate of Searcy High School, is now a freshman star for the Tarleton State University men’s basketball team in Stephenville, Texas. The Texans are competing in NCAA Division I for the first time this season, playing in the Western Athletic Conference.
“It’s definitely been a learning stage,” Hicks said of his start in college basketball. “I feel like it has gone pretty good. It’s just different. There are a lot of good players here. It’s been a fun experience overall. I wouldn’t have it any other way.”
So far, the Texans are 6-8 on the season. Hicks, a forward, has played in all 14 games, including 10 starts. He is averaging 7.3 points and 4.5 rebounds in 18.9 minutes per game.
Hicks said he hasn’t really set any goals for this season.
“I just want to go out there and play hard and give my team the best chance to win,” Hicks said. “I just try to contribute to a win. That is all I ever try to do.”
Tarleton State is coached by former Texas A&M, Kentucky and Texas Tech coach Billy Gillispie, who is in his first year at Tarleton.
“We recruited him,” Gillispie said of Hicks. “He is one of the first guys we really went all in on. I’m very happy that we did that and very happy that we got him.”
Gillispie said Hicks has done great so far this season.
“I think he is going to be a tremendous basketball player,” Gillispie said. “He is already a great person. He is doing really well academically. I couldn’t be more happy to be around him every single day that I am. He is something else – what a great young man from a great family.”
Gillispie said the elder Freddy Hicks and his wife, Jennifer, have been great to work with when it comes to their son.
“In my whole time coaching, I’ve never been around so many great parents,” Gillispie said. “I’ve never been around a guy who appreciates what we are doing for their son. Mr. HIcks could write the book for me for allowing parents to coach their son and to challenge them every day and to demand that they do well.
“They understand it’s not always going to be easy and really appreciate what we are doing for their son, not only in the short term but the long term as well.”
Hicks said playing for Gillispie is a blessing.
“It’s a blessing to be mentored about the game by a guy who knows so much,” he said. “He will elevate my game higher to what you even thought it could be. It’s a blessing. I’m not there yet, but I feel like I’m headed in the right direction under him.”
Second-year Searcy Lions coach Wayne Herren said Hicks is “driven.”
“The first thing when I came in, I reached out to him, and we talked about what we wanted to accomplish,” Herren said of Hicks. “The thing about Freddy is that he is one of those kids who wants to be in the gym, always working on his game.
“The word ‘driven’ is what I like to use about him.”
Hicks said playing for Herren his senior year was fun.
“When you get a new coach, sometimes it doesn’t work out in your favor,” Hicks said. “But I feel like it worked in my favor. It was fun to get a new coach and be around some new guys.”
Hicks said he started playing basketball when he was in the second grade.
“When I first picked up a basketball, I really didn’t take it very seriously,” Hicks said. “As I started going, I was able to see my progression. It just kind of helped me escape some things. Basketball will help with it. The game is real fun. I just like playing it.”
Hicks said when he was in junior high at Searcy he could see himself getting a chance to play basketball at the collegiate level.
“I felt like I was doing OK and I felt like I had the possibility of playing college basketball at high level,” he said.
Hicks said he received “a lot” of recruiting letters.
“Tarleton was definitely one of the schools that really tried to get me,” Hicks said. “I’m just blessed and thankful for this opportunity to play here.”