North Carolina has trouble with the savior complex.
Highly touted recruits don’t pan out, at least not in their first year, and they’re written off.
The expectations soar for five-star recruits with impressive high school résumés and highlight reels. Yet sometimes they soar a bit too high, setting the bar at such an extreme height, not allowing for growing pains and missteps.
In 2013, Isaiah Hicks threw down a thunderous 34 points and 30 rebounds in Webb’s 73-70 overtime state championship win.
A year later, he was buried deep on North Carolina’s bench, struggling to figure out his role on the team, averaging just 7.3 minutes, 1.2 points and 1.0 rebounds per game last season.
The Tar Heels have seen it before.
Harrison Barnes came back for a second chance at a national championship only to fall flat in the NCAA tournament. They saw it again in James Michael McAdoo, who spurned a shot at a likely lottery slot in the NBA Draft only to struggle to find consistency in his next two seasons.
And now, Isaiah Hicks.
“We’re in the age where if you’re a five star talent ranking, you’re supposed to be dominating out of the gate,” said Evan Daniels, Scout.com’s director of basketball recruiting. “And to a degree, that’s not always fair.
“Sometimes, it takes some of these guys a little bit longer to develop.”
The road from Chapel Hill to Oxford is only 43 miles, but Hicks’ journey from state champion at J.F. Webb High School to standout member of Roy Williams’ ball club has been much longer.