December 20, 2023

Freshman Hicke Makes Most of Playing Time  As PU Men’s Hoops Tops D-III Foe Bryn Athyn

ACTION JACKSON: Princeton University men’s basketball player Jackson Hicke dribbles upcourt last Wednesday as Princeton hosted Division III foe Bryn Athyn. Freshman guard Hicke posted his first career double-double with 12 points and 15 rebounds to help the Tigers roll to a 92-40 win over the Lions. Princeton, now 10-1, hosts Delaware Valley on December 22. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

Jackson Hicke scored six points with four rebounds in 59 minutes off the bench over his first nine appearances this season in his freshman campaign for the Princeton University men’s basketball team.

Last Wednesday as Princeton hosted Division III foe Bryn Athyn, guard Hicke got some extended playing time and made the most of the opportunity, tallying 12 points with 15 rebounds and five assists in 33 minutes as Princeton rolled to a 92-40 win over the Lions.

“It was great, I had a couple of long stretches for sure,” said Hicke, a 6’5, 200-pound native of Radnor, Pa., who made 3 of 4 shots, including 2 of 2 from 3-point range and 4 of 4 from the foul line. “The starters came out and played so well and gave us the opportunity to play some minutes.”

Hicke kept hustling to the end, getting an assist and a blocked shot in the waning moments of the contest.

“You have to always give it 100 percent, no matter what the score is or how much time is left in the game,” said Hicke. “I just didn’t want to waste any time on the court.”

In reflecting on his first college double-double, Hicke noted that his rebounding prowess was the product of a team effort.

“It is always a big stress for us to be a plus in the offensive rebound numbers and the defensive rebound numbers,” said Hicke, who also had two blocked shots and three steals on the day. “We chart all of our box outs and stuff. It is really a testament to our big men, boxing out their big guys. It is really them getting me a lot of space, and it just fell into my hands.”

In making the jump to college hoops, Hicke has been challenged by dealing with older, bigger players.

“Defense is the biggest thing, and physicality, playing against 22-year-olds rather than 18-year-olds,” said Hicke. “We worked on it a lot in preseason. There is definitely a lot more to do, but I think I improved a little bit.”

Princeton head coach Mitch Henderson liked getting the chance to give his reserves playing time against Bryn Athyn.

“The way I look at it is that we get an opportunity to see these guys,” said Henderson. “We have been playing so many minutes with our major guys. To be up 17 and all of those guys played four minutes, it is such a gift to the rest of the guys for us to be able to play them so many minutes.”

Henderson credited Hicke with making the most of his minutes. “Jackson had a terrific preseason,” said Henderson. “When we were putting him on one team and he would be playing against some of the good guys, he was terrific. Our schedule has been so difficult — I am glad to hear him talk about how he has grown. He is such a terrific player. He reminds me of Spencer Weisz as well, who was a really good player here all-around. He does a little bit of everything.”

The Princeton bench players showed some growth collectively against Bryn Athyn as they combined for 74 points with Darius Gakwasi scoring a game-high 18 points, Derek Sangster contributing 11, Jacob Huggins chipping in 10 along with 11 rebounds, and Vernon Collins tallying 10 in addition to Hicke’s 12 points.

“I am really happy that you got to see what we see daily from others,” said Henderson. “Both Vern and Jacob have different skill sets, I thought they both played hard. Verbally you can hear Vern out there —he is really loud and aggressive. We are going to need that. Somebody that doesn’t start is going to have to save us in the league at some point. I saw some good signs today.”

Hicke, for his part, is ready to produce when needed. “I think experience is the biggest thing. I am a freshman and I am not used to the speed of college basketball yet,” said Hicke. “I have been in for a little bit in a couple of games — the extended stretch just helped a lot for sure. I am more used to the chemistry and the speed of the game. If I get called on, I will definitely be more prepared after that much playing time.”