Broadneck's J.J. Hicks doesn't say much, but he has been making a lot of noise with his play in two sports.
After a football season in which he was a two-way standout at wide receiver and defensive back for the Class 4A state semifinalists (11-2), the 6-foot-2, 180-pound junior has played a major role in the basketball team's record start.
A high-flying swingman with a quiet demeanor, Hicks has helped the Bruins get off to a 15-0 start after finishing 11-12 a year ago.
"I laugh and joke, but don't talk too much, especially on the court," said Hicks, who is quick and instinctive on the court and finishes strong. "I'm quiet, not a vocal person. That's why they didn't name me captain. I kind of keep to myself, don't really talk a lot and let my play do the talking."
Averaging 16.2 points per game, Hicks has been a main cog in the Bruins' school-record start and the steady climb from No. 12 in The Sun's preseason poll to their current No. 4 ranking.
Hicks, who averaged 15 points as a sophomore, is part of a trio with 6-foot-1 senior Clyde Gross (18 points, 4.6 assists) and 6-foot-2 junior Kevin Hunt (12.6 points, 11 rebounds) that has been driving the Bruins, winners of this season's Wes Unseld Classic title.
"When you look at us warm up, we're not very imposing at all, don't have a true big man," said Broadneck coach Johnny Williams, who was a sophomore on the school's 1988-89 team that held the previous record for fastest start at 13-0. "We basically have four guards and maybe a forward. But they all like to rebound and play strong man-to-man defense.
"J.J. is an amazing athlete, tough to defend. ... He hits clutch buckets for us."
Last week, Hicks had a game-high 25 points in a key 66-55 victory at then-No. 9 Glen Burnie (11-3). Eight of his points came in the final five minutes, six in a crucial 10-0 run by the Bruins.
"He's a monster in there," Glen Burnie coach Mike Rudd said. "He's not as big as those other guys, but he has a nose to the basketball and knows how to position himself."
It was Broadneck's second win over the Gophers this season and left it as the only unbeaten team in Anne Arundel County League play.
Hicks' mother, Sheena Hicks (formerly Sheena Roberts), was a basketball star at Arundel High. His older brother Jamaine Young, and his father, Joseph Hicks, got him interested in basketball and football as a 6-year-old.
Young was an All-County and second-team All-Metro forward at Broadneck in 1995-96, leading the Bruins to the county title and setting a school record for points in a game (40). Young, 6-foot-1, averaged 20.7 points and 8.9 rebounds that season as a senior.
"I really, honestly look up to my brother Jamaine," said Hicks, who watched his brother play at Broadneck and wanted to be just like him. "He comes to all my games and sits on the sidelines, suggesting moves and things to help me. I used to say that some players are good and he always would say to me, `No, you are good.'"
Hicks was able to hang around with his older brother growing up and still does to this day, playing against Young and other former Bruins players in pickup games.
Williams has also helped "a lot," said Hicks, adding that the coach gave him some valuable advice last year.
"I thought it was all about scoring and was having a bad night, and coach pulled me aside and said not to worry about scoring. He told me to do other things to help the team. I started passing and got about eight assists that night.
"One of my best qualities now is that if I'm not on, I concentrate on defense. They usually match me up with the other team's best outside guy, and if I'm not scoring, I know I can play defense and get a few steals or rebounds."
Looking ahead to college, Hicks, 16, said he isn't sure whether he will play basketball or football. He has played varsity football since his freshman year and last fall was a second-team All-County wide receiver.
Hicks caught 31 passes for 422 yards and five touchdowns last season, including two touchdowns in a 28-26 state semifinal loss to eventual 4A state champion Suitland. On defense, he picked off four passes and returned three for touchdowns.
Bruins football coach Jeff Herrick said that Hicks has the tools to play at the next level.
"Coach Herrick is pushing to get me into college, setting me up to go to combines this year," Hicks said.
Hicks runs the 40-yard dash in 4.7 seconds, and Herrick believes he can get down to 4.5.
"Coach says if I work hard, I can get to 4.5 and be a tough [Division I] player," Hicks said. "I'm willing to do the work and drills. I'm dedicated and want to do whatever it takes to be a college player."