Some college coaches give you a heads up, shoot you a text and tell you when they’re coming out to your high school game.
When Zach Hicks met Aaron McKie — Temple head coach and Philly hoops legend — McKie told him he likes to keep a low profile. He told Hicks not to be surprised if, one day, he just popped up at one of Hicks’ games for the Camden Catholic boys’ basketball team.
And so there McKie was, in the corner of the gym, alone — a low profile, as promised — to see Hicks during the Irish’s 59-50 road win over West Deptford on Saturday.
It was a heady moment in the recruiting process of the fast-rising 6-foot-8 junior wing — or so it seemed.
Hicks, though, took it in stride. Those who know Hicks describe him as even-keeled and level-headed. The attitude has helped him keep perspective as his profile rises.
“It is pretty cool because these guys, we watch them on television. We grow up seeing them,” Hicks said. “So just to see people who you watch on TV and admire, to see them in real life and meet them is just awesome.”
Hicks — who can handle the ball like a guard, has great touch from the outside and is a powerful interior player — finished with 27 points on Saturday, seven points above his average.
And he shrugged off the thought that seeing McKie — who shook hands with Hicks at halftime — might have put unwanted pressure on him.
Hicks’ focus through the entire recruiting process is making the most of each of these rare opportunities as they come his way.
Aside from Temple, he has offers from Richmond, Sienna, La Salle and Drexel.
He’s cherished the opportunity to meet people like McKie, and he’s grateful for the lessons he’s learned through conversations with basketball lifers.
McKie “tells me a lot,” Hicks said. “He tells me: Think about like after basketball, So do good in school, focus on getting a good job because the basketball is going to stop dribbling some day.”
Irish coach Matt Crawford is happy with Hicks’ approach to all the added attention.
“Everybody who watches him play just says, ‘That kid is fun to watch,’ ” Crawford said of a player who didn’t start varsity as a freshman. “I teach Zach in class. I’ve known him for three years. He has not changed at all. I see him in school, and he’s still hanging out with the same friends. He’s never had an ego or a big head or anything, and I never expect him to.”
Hicks is focused on that even-keeled mentality. It’s why he’s not rushing himself during the recruiting process. He said he’s still wide open as far as choosing a school, and he doesn’t feel pressure to make a decision.
“Sometimes [the recruiting process] can feel like there’s a lot of pressure because you have to keep your phone on you 24-7 and be ready anytime they call,” Hicks said. “But right now I’m focused on playing basketball.’
He credited his family, especially his mom, and his coaches with helping him. He trusts that he’ll be able to feel when the time is right to ultimately choose a school. Until then, he’ll enjoy the connections he’s making and the opportunities at his fingertips.