Arnold's Hicks towering for FGCU in Atlantic Sun

Linwood Ferguson photo
Published: Friday, March 14, 2014 at 06:23 PM.

FORT MYERS — When you’re 6 feet, 10 inches tall, you don’t need to embellish the truth about your height.

“I’m one of the more honest 6-10 guys in the league,” said Nate Hicks, a former Arnold standout who has emerged as one of the premier rim protectors in the Atlantic Sun Conference as a reserve center for Florida Gulf Coast University. “There’s quite a few listed as the same height and maybe half an inch on me.

“I’ve just stayed with my high school height and been more honest.”

Hicks, a fourth-year junior, ranked fourth in the Atlantic Sun with 1.2 blocks per game while averaging 15 minutes of playing time. He swatted eight shots against Eckerd College early this season, setting a new program record at FGCU. He blocked two shots or more in nine other games.

“It’s been a specialty of mine since high school mainly because I’m much taller and longer than the people I usually play against,” Hicks said. “It’s something I work on. Some of it is natural, some of it is timing. If I’m able to move my feet and stay down when they give a pump fake and jump at the right time, I have a chance to get up there and block it. I take pride on the defensive end especially.”

The general assumption among basketball fans is that being taller is an asset, which is true to a certain degree. Seven-footers thrive in the NBA, for instance, because they often are matched up against players of similar or slightly lesser height.

At the college level, however, height can become a hindrance. Centers often face players half a foot shorter, athletes who prefer to face the basket, draw big men away from the lane and then use their quickness to attack off the dribble. Hicks said that is the biggest challenge he faces on the defensive end of the floor.

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