J.J. Hickson declared for the NBA Draft following his freshman season, and that decision appears to have been a wise move as he is likely to be selected in the first round of tonight's 2008 NBA Draft.
Hickson has seen his draft stock rise this spring after turning in several outstanding workouts for NBA teams. Following his freshman season, the power forward surprised some by entering the draft, and he was quickly projected to go late in the first round or early in the second. Now he is considered a lock for the first round with most mock drafts having him being chosen between 13-28.
Granted, that is a wide range of possibilities, but Hickson feels he was ready to make the jump to the NBA.
"I feel like I've been having good workouts so I [wanted] to keep my name in," said Hickson. "[NBA scouts have] told me I have good potential, a good mindset, and I'm willing to learn and I'm very coachable. They told me I have a great NBA body."
After tonight, Hickson will know where his professional career begins. He could end up a Golden State Warrior, as reports suggest the Western Conference team would love to snatch him up with the No. 14 pick.
Portland holds the No. 13 and No. 27 picks and have brought Hickson in for visits on two different occasions, including on Tuesday.
"He's a guy that has impressed us," said Portland GM Kevin Pritchard.
Maybe the Washington Wizards grab him at No. 18? How about Cleveland at No. 19... who wouldn't want to play with LeBron James?
"They told me I have a great NBA body."
Other late projections have Hickson headed to New Jersey, as the Nets own the No. 10 and No. 21 picks in the draft. Loaded on the perimeter, look for New Jersey to try and re-load up front and his scoring ability would mesh well with defensive stalwarts Josh Boone and Shawn Williams.
Nearly every mock draft has him not slipping past Memphis at No. 28 and various others have him heading to Orlando (No. 22), Utah (No. 23), or Houston (No. 25).
As you can tell, no one really knows where Hickson, or any of the top prospects, will end up as this is one of the most unpredictable drafts in years. However, all indications are that he will be the third NC State player picked in the draft's first round in four years, joining Julius Hodge and Cedric Simmons. Hodge was chosen by the Denver Nuggets with the 20th pick in the 2005 NBA Draft, and Simmons went No. 15 overall to New Orleans in the 2006 draft.
Hickson was a unanimous selection to the ACC All-Freshman team and honorable
mention All ACC in his only season at NC State. He led the Pack in scoring
(14.8 ppg), rebounding (8.5 rpg) and blocked shots (1.52 bpg). He also led the
entire ACC in field goal percentage, hitting 59.1 percent of his shots.
The two-round draft begins at 7:00 p.m. EDT at Madison Square Garden and is televised on ESPN.