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October 5, 2006

J.J. Hickson worked his way to elite status

Power forward
6-8, 220, Marietta (Ga.) Wheeler

Rivals.com Rankings
Rivals150 for 2007: No. 15 overall
2007 Power forwards: No. 3

Career Stats
2005-06 (Jr.) 21.0 12.0 6.0
2004-05 (Soph.) 15.0 10.0 3.5

Watch the latest highlights of J.J. Hickson in action
1. What NBA player do you pattern your game after?
A mix between Amare Stoudamire and Kevin Garnett.

2. What's the best part of your game?
My low post moves, being active and my nose for the ball.

3. What do you still need to work on?
I need to improve my footwork and timing on blocked shots.

4. Who is the best player you have ever played against?
Jermareo Davidson

5. What is your greatest sports moment?
A matchup between Gani Lawal at the Georgia Hoops Fall Showcase.

6. What is your favorite way to get ready for a game?
Listen to Lil Wayne.

7. Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
I want to be in the NBA winning championships.

In his first game at Southwest Atlanta Christian Academy - the school's first contest in the post-Dwight Howard era J.J. Hickson played the way you would expect most sophomores to perform in their first varsity game at a new school.

Outside of one tremendous drop-step dunk on a defender, Hickson was the big kid down low that looked like he was a step out of place and a bit shy of confidence. Most of all, he wasn't Howard.

But Hickson's teammate, Javaris Crittenton, saw something in the 6-foot-7 newcomer.

"I saw it," Crittenton said, "just like Dwight saw it in me. And Dwight stayed on me hard. So that is what I did with J.J.

"I tried to be like a big brother and told him to suck it up and start tapping into that potential. I'd always tell him, 'You gotta work every day and you gotta work harder than everyone else.' "

Now at Wheeler High School in Marietta, Ga., Hickson said he remembers those conversations with Crittenton - who is now a freshman at Georgia Tech.

"I just remember he told me that I was going to be good someday," Hickson said. "It took off from there. I put that in my head and just blew it up to myself. I thought about that all the time."

For the last two years, Hickson has done more working and thinking than he did as a shy sophomore at SACA. Hickson is gearing up for a big senior year at Wheeler. The team is playing games all over country and will be featured on national television.

Others are seeing what Crittenton saw in his young teammate. Hickson is one of the most coveted players in the country.

At one point, he had almost 30 schools on his list. Now his list is at four. With visits to Tennessee and N.C. State already behind him, he is going to Florida this weekend and to Georgetown for Midnight Madness with the Hoyas.

"Right now, I'm building good relationships with good head coaches," Hickson said. "That is what it all boils down to."

Rivals.com is unveiling its preseason Elite Team for the Class of 2007. Comprised of the nation's top high school basketball stars, the Elite Team is broken down into position-specific first, second and third teams. These stars will soon be signing with the top college basketball programs en route to the NBA. We will announce one player each weekday from Oct. 2-20.

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