Tennessee fans saw Bruce Pearl put together one of the top recruiting classes in the nation last year, and later today we'll find out if he can top himself for an encore. Rivals.com five-star prospect and No. 3 rated power forward J.J. Hickson is slated to announce his college choice this afternoon at 4 p.m., and we'll be bringing you blow-by-blow coverage of the announcement.
Hickson (6-foot-8, 220 pounds), from Wheeler High School in Marietta, Ga. has whittled his list down to two schools, Tennessee and NC State, and will end the suspense today with a scheduled press conference at his high school.
The Vols landed an illustrious class last year, highlighted by Ramar Smith, Duke Crews and Wayne Chism, but pulling Hickson as a follow-up to that might even be a more impressive feat.
Tennessee has a severe need in for post players in this class, and Hickson has sat as the No. 1 priority in that regard since last spring. The coaching staff's efforts paid off with an official visit in September, and now the Vols' inclusion in his final two.
Hickson visited NC State two weeks ago, and has taken no other official visits. Last week he cancelled planned visits to Florida and Georgetown respectively, deciding that he was ready to decide between the Vols and the Wolfpack.
First-year head coach Sideny Lowe hasn't coached a game in the ACC yet, but he's proven his prowess on the recruiting trail in a hurry by getting NC State to the final pairing of what started out as a star-studded field in the chase for Hickson's services.
On the court, he's an agile big man who is a force on both ends of the court. He's comfortable with his back to the basket, can be devastatingly effective along the baseline and has the promising beginning of a face-up game from the elbow-area in.
Few players his size combine his agility and quickness with the sort of strong frame he has to not only 'out-athlete' opponents but to also go in and bang in the paint and do the dirty work.
Stay tuned to the message board this afternoon where we will update events at the press conference as they happen with Rivals.com's Justin Young on hand to cover the proceedings for us.