Tony Hicks, the former Penn basketball star who was slated to serve as a team captain in his final season with the Quakers before leaving the program in October, will transfer to Louisville.
He will graduate from the University in May and is eligible to play for the Cardinals immediately in 2016-17.
After conducting his unofficial visit to Louisville over the weekend during the Cardinals' win over Wake Forest, Hicks tweeted "All About the Ville #502ComeUp" on Tuesday evening. 502 is the area code for Louisville, Ky.
Hicks could not be reached by phone for comment on Tuesday night.
"He's going to graduate from Penn and then he's going to Louisville," Gary DeCesare, Hicks' former coach at St. Rita High School in Chicago, told ScoutHoops.
Following the firing of Jerome Allen as the Red and Blue's coach in March, it was unclear what sort of retention issues incoming boss Steve Donahue would face in his first year at Penn. Although Donahue told The Daily Pennsylvanian in October that Hicks and fellow senior Darien Nelson-Henry would be the squad's two captains in 2015-16, he acknowledged the obstacles the two-time All-Ivy honorable mention faced transitioning to a new offensive scheme.
"For Tony, it's probably a little more difficult, just because he's been a guy who's been relied on to score so much," Donahue said. "And this offense isn't necessarily gonna ask him to take the ball and create plays for himself and others.
"[But] I think he's been committed to getting better. No one works harder, on and off the court."
Three days after Donahue made those comments, Penn Athletics announced that Hicks was leaving the program.
"After speaking with Coach Donahue about the best situation for Penn basketball and myself, I have decided the best decision for me will be to take a break from basketball," Hicks said in a release. "This is a personal decision, and I wrestled long and hard with it because I have thoroughly enjoyed playing for Penn the last three years and wearing the Red and Blue."
"I don't know if he would've been comfortable in [a non-star] role," Donahue said the following week. "That's what I saw. And him and I talking basically agreed to disagree.
"Like all of us, including me and Tony, [the players] were kind of surprised where this went."
By voluntarily sitting out his final year with the Quakers, Hicks retained the right not only to graduate from Penn, but to transfer to any program immediately without having to sit out a season.
"He's a scorer," DeCesare added. "He was a 1,000-point scorer at Penn. He was team captain ... and then there was a coaching change. I think it's a good situation for him to graduate from Penn and pursue his masters at another school."
Hicks is not the first noteworthy Ivy basketball star in recent years to leave the Ancient Eight as a graduate transfer. At the conclusion of last season, then-junior guard Alex Mitola announced that he would play his final season at George Washington after three years at Dartmouth. That move preceded the decision by Cornell forward Shonn Miller to move to Connecticut for 2015-16 as well.
Meanwhile, adding graduate transfers has become something of a trend for Rick Pitino and Louisville of late. The Cardinals' two best players this year are concluding their college careers in Kentucky after spending a bulk of their tenure at other schools, as guards Damion Lee and Trey Lewis have averaged a combined 31 points per game since leaving Drexel and Cleveland State, respectively.
Undoubtedly, with Hicks now in the fold as a dynamic perimeter talent and continued recruiting success, Louisville seems poised to contend with a complete team next year. After all, few players in the Ancient Eight were better than the South Holland, Ill., native at knocking down open shots and attacking the hoop during his time at Penn.
In three seasons with the Quakers, Hicks averaged 12.8 points per contest, including a career-best 14.9 points on 42 percent shooting as a sophomore. Throughout that period, the guard did become embroiled in a series of disciplinary incidents, including a one-game suspension after a failed drug test in 2012 and an ejection from a game against Columbia after throwing a punch in 2014.
With his decision to transfer to Louisville, Hicks will forego a scheduled upcoming unofficial visit to Oregon. Additionally, it remains unclear whether or not Donahue played any sort of role in helping the soon-to-be Ivy grad establish connections at Louisville.
"I wish him well, and we will continue to do all that we can to help Tony advance his game for his next step," Donahue said when Hicks' decision to leave the program was announced. "As for this year's team, we will move forward and continue preparing for the upcoming season."
Penn — fresh off a 35-point win against Binghamton — sits at 6-7 on the year, and will welcome Princeton to the Palestra for its Ivy League opener on Saturday.Comments powered by Disqus
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